Childhood Obesity

Posted by Trupti Shirole on Fri, Dec 2, 2011  
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Childhood obesity is increasing at alarming rates and junk food is one of the major reasons for this unhealthy trend. Children these days enjoy eating at fast food joints like McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway and so on.


In order to lure children fast food joints offer free takeaway toys with their Happy Meals. Toy giveaways make children clamor for these unhealthy happy meals. Health officials abroad have taken stringent action against such marketing ploys. Fast food joints whose happy meals do not meet the nutitional standards for sodium, calories and fat are prohibited from giving toy giveaways in children’s meals. Toys can be handed over with kid's meal only if the servings have less than 600 calories, a drink option that is not too sugary or fatty and also includes a serving of fruits and vegetables.


Have you ever thought of checking the nutrition facts of the meals children eat at fast food joints? Junk food is packed with sodium, calories and fat.


This junk food can be really detrimental for children’s health.


Some of the items in the menu contain more than half the daily recommended intake of sodium! Ideally children younger than age 14 should consume no more than 6 gm of sodium daily. High sodium diets can cause high blood pressure, ulcers, kidney stones, seizures, brain swelling and stomach discomfort  in children. High sodium foods are high in calories. Salty snacks tend to make a child thirsty so he is more likely to drink juice or sugar-sweetened beverage with it, which adds even more calories to his diet. Such unhealty eating habits lead to obesity in children. High fat food simply adds up calories- 1gm fat provides 9calories.


Parents should limit visits to fast food restaurant. They should try to inculcate healthy eating habits among children from a very early age. It has been observed that many times toys are the reason why children opt for the happy meals rather than other healthier options that are available. Along with the parents reponsibilty is it not the Governments responsibility also to look into this matter? The Indian Government should also take a step further and pass an ordinance prohibitting handing over free toys with meals that do not meet the recommended nutritional standards. Such an ordinance will certainly help control the obesity epedimic to some extent.


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