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Junk food and its health implications

Jan 2 2024 / Posted in Child nutrition

We are all vulnerable to junk food. It’s so much easier to cook and eat a two-minute packet of noodles, or pop some biscuits into your mouth than have to think about what to cook everyday. And with the large varieties of so-called healthy alternatives available, it is easy to get sucked in.

Just how all pervasive junk food is, hits you most outside schools and college. Take a walk around lunch break or after school hours, and you will inevitably find kids clutching packets of chips, or wolfing down vada pavs.

An occasional indulgence is fine, but if eaten on a regular basis, junk food has enormous health consequences, even more so for kids. The World Obesity Federation warns that unhealthy eating, and this includes the consumption of sugary drinks, is leading to a rising number of children becoming obese. Millions are getting affected by Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, earlier seen in adults only.

About 13.5 million children have weakened glucose tolerance, which is a sign to diabetes. Over 20 million have high blood pressure while over 30 million have fatty liver disease. This is a condition that is linked to alcoholism and can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

This is bad news for kids the world over. For poorer countries like India, where the health system is already overburdened, it spells disaster.

As an IndiaSpend report pointed out, obesity exists alongside stunting in India and there are serious implications if action is not taken to correct this. Childhood obesity, says the study, is high among the affluent and urban, upper classes. However, there is are not enough studies done on the prevalence. According to one report, India sees 10 million cases of childhood obesity every year.

There is also an alarming rise in cases of childhood diabetes, which needs to be addressed. Clearly an action plan is called for to deal with the WHO has called “an exploding nightmare”.