Hyderabad: A survey by AddressHealth, India’s largest provider of health services in schools for children, has revealed some alarming trends on various health disorders in school children in Hyderabad with 1 in 5 children “at-risk” of lifestyle/ metabolic diseases in adulthood (based on their waist to height ratio, which was in excess of the standard 0.5%).
The survey was conducted during the current academic year (2017/18) in 36 private schools in Hyderabad and covered approximately 18,000 children belonging to different age and income groups. It shows that obesity is on the rise with nearly 9% being obese and 11% being overweight. Primary and middle school children were found to be more obese (10.23% and 11.71%, respectively) than preschool kids indicating the role of junk food and a sedentary lifestyle. 16.04% and 15.78% of children in the middle and high school category were found to be overweight. Further, nearly 30% of the total number of children surveyed suffered from malnourishment (either over-nourished – obese/overweight or under-nourished – thin/too thin).
Other key findings:
– 13.5% school children across various age groups have vision problems and nearly 1 in 6 students studying in class 1 and above suffer from vision problems that need correction with spectacles.
– More than 1 in 3 of the children surveyed suffer from dental caries with pre-school children having more dental caries due to poor oral hygiene and eating habits;
– 38% of the total children surveyed across different age groups were also affected by dental cavities
Commenting on the findings, Dr Anand Lakshman, Founder and CEO, Address Health, said, “Non-communicable diseases are striking at a very early age due to a variety of factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, change in diet patterns as well as inadequate focus on children’s health and wellbeing by many schools, and parents/guardians. This trend needs an urgent change failing which many of these children will be at a higher risk of contracting lifestyle disorders as adults. Pediatric primary care plays a vital role for children throughout their development in terms of addressing acute health problems, chronic health conditions, and behavioral and developmental health issues.”
“There is a need for schools to create awareness on health issues and the importance of an active lifestyle, healthy food, and staying away from substance addiction right at the pre-primary stage. Only when these issues are nipped in the bud can children grow up to become healthier adults without any health conditions. AddressHealth focuses not just on prevention and management of these conditions but on ensuring that every child attains a state of positive health. The increasing rate at which health issues are impacting children and the findings of our study in Hyderabad are major reasons for us to expand our focus to other cities too eventually. We expect to serve ~ 85,000 school children in Hyderabad by March 2019,” he added.
AddressHealth also recently released data in Pune that too revealed 12% of children in the city are at risk of contracting lifestyle diseases in adulthood. 11% of the kids are obese, 13% are overweight and nearly 45% are malnourished indicating the need for a national policy or awareness program catering to the health of school children.
AddressHealth’s school health services are designed by a team of pediatricians, public health experts, child psychiatrists, psychologists, nutritionists and other health professionals. The services include Health check-ups for children; Medical Room / Tele-infirmary; Nurturing Schools / Mental Wellbeing Services; and Health Education with Workbooks (Standard 1st to 8th). Currently Address Health’s services encompass ~ 200,000 children in over 200 schools in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune & Delhi NCR.
The AddressHealth School Health Program is based on WHO guidelines for school health and address the growing health concerns of urban schools in India.