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Indian Children, Adolescents Already Showing Signs of Diabetes, Obesity, Hypertension

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Oct 24, 2019

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Indian youth, aged 5 to 19, are showing early signs of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney disease, the first-ever Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) has revealed.

According to the survey, 10% of children have a high amount of triglycerides in their blood, which is often a sign of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and obesity. 28% of children have low HDL, or good cholesterol, which also increases the risk of a heart attack. 5% of adolescents displayed high levels of hypertension, or high blood pressure, and 7% of children and adolescents were at a high risk of chronic kidney disease, which leaves lifelong damage to the kidneys. 10% of children were prediabetic, which means their blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be type 2 diabetes. Finally, the survey found obesity is on the rise among adolescents aged 10 and 19.

The findings were released after 1.12 lakh children and adolescents were measured for their height and weight. Biological samples from 51,029 children between ages 5 to 19 were also taken from all states.

A sedentary lifestyle, consumption of junk food, limited physical activity, and genetic factors are possible culprits behind the rise in lifestyle diseases in Indian youth, according to C.N. Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, reported The Hindu.

“With most children hooked to gadgets, outdoor physical activity has become a rarity,” he said. “Children can develop high blood pressure at school-going age if there is a family history. If there is no family history, it is important to rule out secondary causes, including nephrotic syndrome, thyroid and other endocrine disorders. Parents should ensure their children shun junk food and bakery items.”


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The survey found school children and adolescents also commonly showed vitamin D and zinc deficiencies. About 41% of preschoolers, 24% of school children, and 28% of adolescents suffer from anemia, a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells; leaving it untreated can affect a child’s growth and development. The condition was most prevalent among children under two years of age. Genderwise, female adolescents were found to have a higher prevalence of anemia, with 40% suffering from it, while only 18% of males in this age group were anemic. Anemia also emerged as a widespread problem among pre-schoolers and school-age children.

These diseases, even vitamin deficiencies, need attention, Dr. Vishwanath Siddini, head of nephrology and consultant pediatric nephrologist at Manipal Hospitals, told The Hindu. Take for instance, childhood obesity: “It is a forerunner of poor physical health and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension and glucose intolerance (type II diabetes), and therefore, requires care and attention,” Dr. Siddini said.

He added, “This is a matter of serious concern as NCDs typically occur later on in life. Birth defects, congenital abnormalities, and hereditary diseases such as polycystic kidney disease are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease in children. But if hypertension in children goes undetected, they can develop chronic kidney disease. Apart from a lifestyle modification that includes outdoor physical activities with limited screen time, a wholesome and balanced diet comprising minimally processed food is a must.”

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Written By Anubhuti Matta

Anubhuti Matta is an associate editor with The Swaddle. When not at work, she’s busy pursuing kathak, reading books on and by women in the Middle East or making dresses out of Indian prints.

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