How Schools Can Solve Child Obesity

Ms. Maya Gupta

Director/Principal, Universal Public School, New Delhi

“ yuktāhāra-vihārasya yukta-cheṣhṭasya karmasu yukta-svapnāvabodhasya yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā ”

Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 6, Verse 17

Meaning: Those who are temperate in eating and recreation, balanced in work, and regulated in sleep, can mitigate all sorrows by practicing Yog.

In this verse, Shree Krishna states that by being temperate in bodily activities and practicing Yog, we can become free from the sorrows of the body and mind.

Yog is the union of the soul with God and an excellent method to control obesity.

These days’ people suffer from different health issues related to heart, diabetes, depression, malnutrition, overweight and obesity. Amongst, obesity is one of the major issues leading to multiple diseases. Obesity is defined as having a body-mass index equal to or greater than 30, BMI is a value derived from the mass and height of a person.

The World Health Organization reports that the share of children and adolescents aged 5-19 who are overweight or obese has risen from 4% in 1975 to around 18% in 2016. It shows that in just 40 years the number of school-age children and adolescents with obesity has risen more than 10-fold, from 11 million to 124 million. WHO report also focuses on the relationship between income and obesity. The prevalence of obesity tends to be higher in richer countries across Europe, North America, and Oceania. Obesity rates are much lower across South Asia and Sub- Saharan Africa. Japan, South Korea and Singapore have very low levels of obesity for their level of income. (Source: WHO).

Evidently, people in the countries with lower obesity rate are more active and enjoy their life more along with being successful. Another example Adnan Sami, a famous Indian singer is undoubtedly an inspiration for losing weight. He lost close to 200 pounds by following a strict low-carb high protein diet along with regular workouts, making him more pulsating and handsome.

Key determinants of childhood obesity are changing lifestyle with unhealthy dietary habits, excess calories intake and reduced physical activity. In 21st Century one of the most sensitive challenges for Global Public Health is Childhood obesity, which is affecting almost every country in the world. Majority children do not consume diets as per the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines, nor do they achieve adequate levels of daily physical activity. Consequently, more children are overweight today. To promote healthy eating, parents at home and teachers in school play an important role and coalition between two is essential.

“The best way to teach your kids is mindful eating.” Eating habits is developed from the beginning at home, primarily by the parents. Parents should be careful what they cook. Taking time from their busy schedule mothers must focus on organic, raw and uncooked food rather than ready to eat, frozen and tinned food. Preparing food with high nutrition value must be preferred over junk and fatty food. I do not say and in fact not possible, to totally stop junk food. Yes at the same time, balancing kid’s preference one day in a week can be kept as kids’ choice food day. Children must be educated on healthy eating so that they recognize the type of food that is good for their health. An interesting way is to build a kitchen and school garden so that teachers/ parents can sensitize the connection between home grown foods. Physical cleanliness, food and environmental hygiene, classroom surroundings are also the prime areas. It is true that properly nourished children will be able to concentrate better in lessons and remain focused.

School plays an equally important role by giving daily physical education classes emphasizing health-related fitness activities. Government should also set strict guidelines for the amount of exercise every primary school child should receive and ensure that individual schools carry out successfully. Looking back at the earlier teaching methods, teachers gave punishments which scientifically benefitted the body. Punishing the students by holding both their earlobe with the index finger and thumb by squatting down and then get up slowly, is nothing else but what is named today; ‘Superbrain Yoga’. This stimulates the acupressure points in your earlobes and sends electrical signals to the brain, thus boosting cognitive clarity. This results in sharper and calmer mind, better performance in school with learning, retention, and recall. Teachers should give same kind of punishment today which will in turn make the kids physically and mentally strong. Yoga with dance, aerobics and different dance forms (Hip-hop, Zumba, Belly, Salsa, Indian Classical, etc) activities should also be encouraged both in school and home; this triggers weight loss and make kids more flexible. Parents should ensure that kids take their own glass of water, food plate, opening the gate at home when the doorbell rings. Along with enriching the good values in kids, it also reduces obesity and lethargies. Cycling and walking instead of travelling on car for few miles is another way of burning excess calories.

“The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is the best.”

Thomas Jefferson.

Ms. Maya Gupta

Director/Principal, Universal Public School, New Delhi