Are your kids binge-eating during lockdown?

According to a study by New York Academy of Medicine, school closures due to COVID-19 may trigger childhood obesity resulting in them having a higher Body Mass Index at an older age.  

Published: 17th April 2020 05:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th April 2020 03:55 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: If you are one who is worried about the underprivileged starving during the lockdown, turn around and you might be shocked to see children from privileged families getting into ‘binge-eating’ or ‘pattern grazing.’

With all schools closed and no possibility of engaging in sports, children going on a splurge may trigger childhood obesity leading to severe long-term consequences, warn paediatricians and nutritionists.  Raj Kumar Radhakrishnan, paediatrician and neonatologist at Gleneagles Global Health City, says children tend to eat as a past time owing to a restriction in movement. “This kind of overeating becomes a habit. It affects them physically and mentally, favouring an early onset of obesity,’’ he says.  

There is a possibility of obese young children growing into obese adults. “Obese children grow up having hypertension, high blood pressure, heart diseases and diabetes at a young age,’’ he warns.

There can be an indirect link of obese parents passing their lifestyle to their children as well. “While there is a minimal possibility of genetic transmission of obesity, children tend to copy the lifestyle of parents at home,’’ adds Radhakrishnan.

According to a study by New York Academy of Medicine, school closures due to COVID-19 may trigger childhood obesity resulting in them having a higher Body Mass Index at an older age.  

Nutritionists say parental intervention is necessary by having fixed meal time, a healthy meal plan and a proper sleep cycle to maintain cardio rhythm.  

VS Lekha, Head of Department, Dietetics, Apollo Womens Hospital, says deep-fried vegetables and junk snacks must be avoided in daily routine to prevent ingestion of extra calories. “Children don’t go out anymore. So if parents don’t bring junk food home, they won’t eat it,’’ says Lekha.

A healthy meal plan includes multi-grain bread, rajma, green gram, salads and sprouts and other pulses which add fibre. “A potato can be dropped in sambar instead of being fried. Carrot or beetroot can be mixed with idli or dosa batter. Rotis and chappatis can be stuffed with veggies and served,’’ she suggests.
Fruits must be consumed as whole fruit with its fibre and not as juice. “Sugar in fruit juices adds calories. Milk, soya, curd or buttermilk is good to maintain lean muscle mass,’’ she says.

It is important for children to get some amount of sunlight. “At least 10-15 minutes exposure to sunlight may enhance Vitamin D absorbtion and calcium in the body which is important for bone health,’’ she says.
R Girija, a resident of Chennai, says her 15-year-old daughter keeps eating packed chips and biscuits at odd hours, including midnight. “She was clinically diagnosed as obese in 2017 but her eating habit has become an addiction,’’ rues Girija.

The lockdown has only increased binge eating. “Normally, they go to school with home cooked lunch and return home in the evening. Now, they are bored and ask us to buy junk food,’’ she adds.

Meanwhile, parents say kids are normally drawn to snacking seeing television advertisements. “They ask us to buy things after seeing TV ads and get moody when we don’t. During holidays, they tend to ask for snacks more as they are less occupied,’’ says Sujatha Suresh, a mother of two.Though deemed unhealthy by many experts in the past, parents say children are addicted to specific brands of instant noodles as well.

Expert advice
Introduce vegetables in dosa or idli batter, serve stuffed paratha
Instead of junk snacks, opt for salads, channa and sprouts
Smoothies of guava, kiwi and apple are ideal for summer

India Matters


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