New Delhi: More than 28 percent schoolchildren in the capital have been found to be overweight or obese with one-fourth of them at a risk of getting diabetes , heart disease, stroke and possible early death, a new study has warned.
"Obesity is the most important epidemic of the 21st century, which leads to the early onset of diabetes at 14 years instead of after 50 years," said Anoop Misra, director and head of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases department at the Fortis Hospital, here Saturday.
For the last several years Misra, who was earlier with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), has been part of a project funded by the ministry of science and technology to study the incidence of obesity among schoolchildren.
The ongoing study has revealed that since 2004 there has been a 13 percent rise in the incidence of obesity among teenagers between 14 and 18 years.
Globally, the incidence of obesity in childhood in 2004 was 10 percent though in the US and Britain it was much higher at 20 percent.
"About 28.9 percent urban children in India have Syndrome X, which is one step away from diabetes and two steps away from heart disease," said Misra.
"These children also have a high risk for development of early heart disease since 13 to 25 percent of them showed high levels of C-reactive protein, which is a robust predictor of future severe heart disease."
Other risk factors for heart disease were 40-50 percent of the children had increased triglycerides (blood fat) levels while 30-70 percent had low HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
Given the increasing risk to health due to obesity, the World Diabetes Foundation based in Denmark is helping the Diabetes Foundation of India undertake further studies in three cities including Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
Under this programme over 50,000 schoolchildren will be educated on good nutrition and balanced diet, while 120 students and 60 physical instructors will be trained as volunteers to continue the programme on a sustained basis, said Anil Kapur, managing director of the World Diabetes Foundation.