The prevalence of obesity has increased significantly with more and more children becoming overweight. India possesses an overweight population which is as large as the total population of Germany. Out of the 30 million people who are overweight in India, 20% of them are children in the age group of 5-14 yrs. What is worrying is the increase in incidence of Type 2 diabetes amongst children and adolescents. What once affected people in their fifties, is now diagnosed in children aged between 6 and 18. This increase is mainly seen due to a high-on-junk and low-on-exercise lifestyle of children today. Today children prefer slouching in front of their TV/computer/tab or mobile screens and munching on a packet of chips rather than involving themselves in any outdoor activities. Healthy home food has been replaced by high fat junk food like pizza, burgers and aerated/soft drinks which are promoted heavily by TV commercials. Lack of open large spaces either public or within the residential society and school premises deters children and adults from having outdoor activities. Playgrounds are hence being replaced by video games and computers.Moreover academic pressure has increased allowing very little time for the children to play. It is important to note that a child is at risk of Type 2 Diabetes if she/he is overweight, physically inactive, plays/watches more than 2 hours of video games/TV per day or has a family history of diabetes.
The responsibility to stem the tide of obesity in children lies in the hands of parents and teachers.
Here are a few easy tips for parents to help their kids fight obesity
• Cultivate taste buds and eating habits as early as possible
• Be a good role model .You can’t expect your children to have good eating habits if you don’t maintain them yourselves
• Don’t cook separately for the kids, offer the same meals to the entire family
• Make changes slowly. Pick one habit you want to change every month. eg. Instead of a desert serve a fruit.
• Make sure your children eat breakfast comprising of wholegrain cereal, fresh fruit and milk instead of fried snacks.
• Control portion size, for eg. Serve ice-cream in small bowls and not cereal bowls.
• When eating out, never supersize -think small.
• Order kiddie meals and not adult portions when eating out.
• Stock the house with healthy foods like fruits and nuts instead of deep fried snacks like chips, chaklis etc.
• Avoid eating food in front of the TV and on bed. Make it a habit to eat at the table as a family.
• Have set-meal times to limit snacking.
• Increase the protein intake by incorporating cottage cheese, lentils, nuts , milk in the meals
• Give homemade healthy snack in the tiffin box and restrict the amount of pocket money
• Use tricks to make healthy food more attractive to children- eg shapes and colours, add vegetables to parathas, soups, dosas, poha, upma and idlis.
• Don’t stop treats completely for the child or he might overdo it on the sly.
• Limit TV and computer time. Limit it to less than one hour per day with more time for play.
• Encourage the child to take up one sport activity.
• Be a role model for an active lifestyle. Remember your child will follow your footsteps more readily than your advice
Schools play a vital role in improving the nutritional status of the children. Teachers must educate the students about healthy eating habits and encourage them to choose healthy food. Canteen should stock only healthy food options. Schools must encourage students to adapt to healthy eating habits by holding debates/discussions on healthy food habits and their benefits. Initiatives to organize campaigns like “Healthy eating week” which can spread the message among all students must be taken. An hour of physical activity made compulsory for all students.This will need concentrated efforts from parents and teachers to ensure a healthy future free of diabesity
Healthy Tiffin Options
• Vegetable Pulao with Boiled eggs/ Scrambled paneer
• Veg/Paneer/ Dal Paratha with Raita/Buttermilk
• Egg/ Paneer/Cheese vegetable Sandwich
• Veggie stuffed Idlis/Coin Utappams with Chana Dal Chutney
• Whole Wheat Rajma/ chicken/ paneer/ mushroom Wraps
• Tricolour Sandwich or Ribbon Sandwich
• Palak Paneer with Chapati
• Chana Chat with veggies
• Vegetable Atta/ Oats Noodles
• Sprouts Bhel
• Paneer Chilli Triangle
• Rajma / Moong tikki
Chickpea paratha – serves 2
½ cup chickpea soaked overnight and pressure-cooked. Crush it in the pressure cooker.
2 tsp oil
½ tsp jeera
1 tsp green chilly paste
2 tsp coriander leaves chopped finely
1 tsp garam masala
2 cooked rotis
Lemon juice according to taste
Salt according to taste
On a pan, heat 1 tsp oil and add jeera.Put crushed chana. Add coriander, green chilly paste, garam masala, salt and lemon juice to taste.
Put the stuffing into the roti .Heat the paratha on a non-stick pan. Adjust with little or no oil and cook it on both the sides.
Paneer chilli triangle – serves 2
2 roti cooked
1 cup tomato
1 tsp oil
1 cup spring onion - finely chopped green as well white
1 cup capsicum finely chopped
1 tsp butter
1 tsp soy sauce
½ cup paneer chopped in to cubes
Black pepperpowder as per taste
Salt to taste
Heat butter in the pan. Add all the above ingredients except white spring onion. Divide the mixture in to 2 portions. Put the mixture on the roti along with the chopped spring onion. Fold the roti from three sides to make a triangle. Cook the triangle on a non stick pan with little oil on both the sides till golden brown and serve hot with tomato / green chutney or both.
Chinese Toast - serves 4
Multigrain / brown bread 6 slices
3 tsp butter
2 tsp oil
1 cup shredded cabbage
½ cup grated carrot
½ cup chopped capsicum
½ chopped spring onion
½ cup boiled corn
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp black powder
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 boiled potato mashed
1 slice cheese (optional)
Salt according to taste
Spread butter on 1 side of bread. Heat oil in a pan and add all the ingredients, except potato. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, black pepper powder, salt, white vinegar. Mix well and add mashed potato. Keep aside and cool it. Divide the mixture into 6 portions. Take one side of bread and spread one portion of mixture on unbuttered side. Prepare the other slice in the same way. Heat the tava and place the prepared slice with buttered slice facing down on the tava. Let it toast for 1 minute, turn it and toast it for 1 more minute. Toast all slices in the same way.
Before serving decorate with stripes of cheese slices. Serve with tomato chutney or green chutney.
Corn Paneer Chaat- Serves 1
½ cup boiled corn
1/4 cup paneer cubes
1 chopped onion
1 chopped tomato
1/2 chopped capsicum
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp chaat masala
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.