Tackling the Emerging Childhood Obesity Epidemic in India as a Pediatrician

ObesityChildhood obesity is an emerging problem in most developing countries, including India. This is due to the change in lifestyles, fueled by increasing middle class incomes, Western diets, and decreased physical activities. Most pediatricians are aware of this. However, the question is, are the parents of these children aware that their child is overweight or obese? In most cases the answer is no. Even if the parents are concerned about the child’s weight, very few understand the consequences of being overweight at this age and are unwilling to make modifications to tackle the problem. As a pediatrician, the most common problem I face is the resulting discomfort of the family when I label their child as obese. Most parents in India are happy that their child is “healthy” and do not think of the child as being overweight. Therefore, to make them more receptive to my suggestions, here are a few things that I do to make the diagnosis less confrontational:

  • I routinely chart the child’s weight, height, and body mass index (BMI) and give the chart to the parents, showing them the health status of their child. I encourage them to chart the child’s weight and height at home every 2 months.
  • I do not refer to their child as “obese” or “overweight”. Instead, I usually say that he/she is at an “unhealthy weight.” Parents are more open to discussion then, as they do not take the weight of their child as an insult to themselves.

Then, there is the other ...

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This entry was posted in Obesity, Pediatrics, Primary Care and tagged . Volume: .

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