The health of the children in the metros particularly, is a cause of concern for many due to reasons not caused by the problem of inflation or low income of the parents but due to the wrong food habits and more consumption of junk food. This problem is not confined to Indian cities but is all over the world. The government of NCR Delhi has directed that there will be no shop which sells junk food within five hundred meters of a school. Some people have appreciated the same but there are others who feel that this may not be step to curb the problem of obesity. The life style of the people have changed the entire routine and the children and also the adults tend to accumulate the fat which otherwise could have been burnt if the physical exercises were given due importance in our day to day life. The major educational board of the country CBSE has made it mandatory to give more emphasis on games and sports and physical workouts. Just one step would not be able to set things right for the children to get rid of the obesity problem but number of efforts should be made by all concerned who care for the health of the citizens of the nation. The important issue is to understand the reason why children tend to get into the habit of letting negative traits developed. The so called junk food is advertised so easily and effectively that the children tend to ignore the lesson of healthy food habits. The impressionable minds of the children register the ads shown on TV or internet and develop the taste of the same after taking the same for long. The parents are also to be held responsible for the same because they themselves are very fond of such food. As teachers we come across the complaint of many parents that there child does not eat green vegetables’. Eating pizza or burger once in a while may not be a serious concern but having it every day is not good. Those parents who show a lot of concern towards the health of their children should look into their own food habits. I know many parents who themselves are very fond of such food and indirectly teach their kids to have the same. Once the children develop the taste for junk food, it becomes difficult for them to change their likes. The reason for the mothers particularly to opt for the junk food is its availability and convenience to cook. There are many schools which advise the parents to send healthy food in the lunch boxes of the children but still junk food is sent by them. When asked for the reason, many of them were very honest in telling that as the children leave for the school early so they were not able to provide proper healthy food as that takes a lot of time to get prepared whereas the junk food requires almost no preparation because it is readymade, most of the times. Also, when a child performs well or win any prize he/she is appreciated by giving a party lavished with junk food. The soft drinks like Pepsi or coke are promoted by the film stars and cricketers who are the icon for the kids and they get influenced by what they show or say. I still remember one ad in which an actor will cross many hurdles for the sake of a particular brand of a soft drink.
Another reason of the obesity in the children is lack of physical exercise. This adds to the problem already created by the easy availability of the junk food. The children get very little time to do physical exercise due to lack of space and time. As the number of parks and playgrounds are on a decrease so are the opportunities available for the kids. This compounds the problem as the children get hooked to the TV or computer which further binds them to one place. Those parent who complain to the teachers that their children do not eat proper lunch or dinner, should ensure that their children do not take junk food in between the meals. One doctor very rightly said that this is a vicious circle and one problem leads to the other one. So the question is where to start so that the problem of the obesity is taken care of. The first and most important step is to be taken by the parents and the family. They should ensure that healthy food is served and appreciated by all so that the children learn the importance of this type of food. Second the children can be told and advised about the ill effects of the junk food and the reality about the misleading ads should also be discussed. The government should be serious about the ads which mislead the people and these should not be allowed or there should be a clear warning as is for other such products which are not considered good for the health. The schools should also play a proactive role and advise the parents of those children who are sent with junk food not to do so. The consistence and constant efforts will yield fruitful results. All should avoid blame game and be partners in this movement for the healthy life and future of the country. The parents should not pamper the children for the sake of making them happy for the time being because this will lead to serious problems in future. The daily routine should be such that the children get enough time to do their daily course early in the morning in spite of rushing to board the school bus without getting fresh. I know many children who come to the school without eating anything in the morning. Now see if a child board a school bus at 6.30 am (without having anything in breakfast) and then get a chance to eat something at 10.30 am or so during the break, how difficult and unhealthy it would be him/her and in that also if the child has to eat junk food then it would be worst for his/her health. The parents should realize that proper nutritious food is essential for child`s proper growth and their contribution in this is of immense importance.
The remedy of the problem of obesity is not very difficult if taken seriously by the parents and the schools. The children should be encouraged to eat healthy food as per the culture and availability. The parents and the teachers should act as the role models in this case also. They should ensure that the children get some place and time to play one or the other game which is very important for the healthy development of the child`s body and mind. The children should be counseled not to sit on computer or watch TV for long. For this, parents should also set some timetable for themselves too. If the children find the parents watching TV or sitting in front of computer for long then they also get tempted to do the same. As we all know that not so good habits are imbibed by us more easily and quickly than the good ones. So prepare good healthy food at home and give the same to the children in their lunch box to be taken to the school. The schools should also encourage children for healthy food by different activities because the children learn more by seeing than lecturing. This issue should be taken very seriously and at the earliest so that we can make the future of our children healthier and safer.