MUMBAI: Contrary to the popular belief, even children with chubby cheeks from well-to-do families living in urban areas are prone to malnutrition, say experts.
However, unlike the children from poor social status where the symptoms of malnutrition are evident with the bulging stomach (beri beri) and underweight body, the rich urban children may look overweight in some of the cases.
Nutritionists and pediatricians say that 60-70 per cent of children from rich families have been found to be malnourished owing to their lifestyle. Obesity is one of the indication of malnutrition in urban children. “Faulty eating habits, lack of exercise and very less opportunity for using this calories is leading to malnutrition among urban children from even those families that are financially well-off,” Dr Samir Dalwai, developmental pediatrician and founder member of Citizen’s Alliance against Malnutrition said. The recent report released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was brought forth by Citizen’s Alliance against Malnutrition based on the survey conducted by Nandi Foundation.
It may seem like a paradox that despite having access to food urban children are prone to malnutrition but experts feel that in the recent years the number of children from well-to-do families suffering from nutrition deficiency has been on the rise.
According to Dr Nagesh Tekale, a scientist who researches malnutrition, the six factors of balanced diet constitute carbohydrates, protein, fibre, minerals vitamins and fats.
“Urban children get an overdose of carbohydrates and fats from foods made from refined ingredients that lack in nutrient value. The major culprits are junk foods and lack of exercise,” he said. City children who are growing up on mouthwatering pizzas, Vada Pav, burgers, sandwiches, chips and biscuits are building merely calories minus the vital nutrients needed to keep their body healthy. “Though the rich families have access to lot of food it does not have all the required nutrients leading to deficiency of calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12,” said nutritionist Naaznin Hussein of Indian Dietician Association.
“City children are consuming food that is generating more calories and there is no opportunity to consume this calories,” said Dr Dalwai.