February 4th, 2009
Cancer, a word that can send a chill down the spine and mean the end of the world to many who face such a verdict, is projected to become the leading cause of death worldwide by the year 2010. In order to reduce the global burden of cancer, by raising awareness about this deadly disease, February 4th
every year is dedicated as World Cancer Day.
To catch them young and watch them grow to be healthy adults, is the pervading sentiment of World Cancer Day reflected in its theme for 2009 as "Today's children, tomorrow's world"
. It is a fervent call to parents to ensure that their children eat healthy and are physically active. On this day, The International Union against Cancer (UICC) will also launch the theme of "I love my healthy active childhood
" in continuation of last year's theme - "I love my smoke-free childhood
"84 million people may die of cancer between 2005 and 2015 if precious little is done to prevent it."- World Health Organisation
Some of the risks of cancer include - ageing, family history, tobacco & alcohol abuse, obesity, lack of physical exercise and poor diet. The incidence of obesity is also witnessing an upward trend among adults and children worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 1 billion adults worldwide are overweight.
The International Obesity Taskforce estimates that one in 10 school going children is overweight and 30-45 million children between the age group of 5-17 are obese. Obesity and overweight are known to elevate cancer risks in adults.
The responsibility of raising healthy children rests with parents and to an extent with the school, which can play a crucial role in imparting awareness about healthy diet and adequate physical exercise. Raising healthy kids - No child's play
• Inculcate physical activity in children at a young age; parents must also set an example by adopting an active lifestyle.
• Restrict the number of hours spent on sedentary pursuits like computer games and television; instead encourage children to devote their leisure time for physical activity.
• Let children consume a variety of foods as the body needs 40 different kinds of vitamins and minerals each day.
• Ensure children eat healthy- include a variety of fruits, fresh vegetables in the diet everyday, at least five servings each day.
• Say 'No' to Saturated fat
• Encourage children to drink plenty of fluids
• Importantly, serve them an energising breakfast with adequate carbohydrates, milk, and protein in the form of lean meat, beans, nuts and whole grains.
Undoubtedly, good diet, exercise and a smoke-free environment are foundations for a healthy and cancer free life for our precious children. Can we not take the step to make life healthy for our children?