‘Lifestyle is a new religion’ and ‘You are what you eat’ are very popular phrases used these days. It clearly means that we should take care of what we eat and what activity we do in a day. Few decades back things were not worst as they are today. There were fresh fruits, vegetables, grains available. So the food environment around us was healthy. Food was coming from farms and cooked at home which had much better nutritional value. But now a days in mall culture, nuclear families and fast paced life, our kitchens are loaded with so called ‘Ready to eat’ foods. Advertisements on TV determine food choices of children! This has dramatically changed our view towards food.
Children spend most of their time in schools and teachers are the role models for many of them. Children believe and have faith in what teachers teach. Food and lifestyle related education in schools has become essential. Previously there used to be one chapter on nutrition but now in the world of packed food there are so many things children should learn. So there must be a subject in the syllabus related to food and nutrition. This will lead to healthier and brighter future of this generation.
According to WHO, childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. This can directly impact their career and quality of life too.
Overweight, obesity and related diseases are largely preventable. Prevention of childhood obesity therefore needs high priority. If schools work on root cause of childhood obesity all future issues are avoidable.
What measures schools can take to identify obesity and take corrective steps
- Height, weight, waist and hip circumference of every student should be measured every three months. It will give clear idea of obesity in children.
- Foe obese children blood sugar and blood pressure should be checked at regular intervals.
- Wellness and lifestyle coach should be appointed in the school that can guide on above reports and treat it.
- If school is providing meals, get the menu plans designed from expert nutritionist and monitor it whether it is followed meticulously.
- School should encourage outdoor activities in obese children with special attention.
- Cooking should be introduced in schools. So that from childhood they can adopt healthy cooking habits.
- School canteens should serve healthy food stuffs and strictly avoid keeping junk food and carbonated beverages.
- School should start with exercise practice daily or yoga asanas which will cultivate a habit of working out daily that will help children in the long run.
Schools have major role in shaping children’s life. Hence identifying problem is important. Regular monitoring and treating the problem in its early stage must be the utmost priority.
If all above simple strategies are implemented it can save future burden of disease on our country. Healthy citizens of India will perform better in all sectors of life and make India proud!