Tue, Oct 11, 2016 - Page 3 News List

One in three school-aged children are chubby: HPA

ASSOCIATED RISKS:If childhood obesity is ignored, it can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and other conditions, the health administration said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

About one-third of elementary and junior-high school students are obese or overweight, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said yesterday ahead of World Obesity Day’s “Overcoming childhood obesity” events today.

According to the WHO, in 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight and among them more than 600 million were obese; 39 percent of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight, and 13 percent were obese; 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese.

Ministry of Education data show that in 2014, 32.8 percent of elementary-school boys and 24.9 percent of elementary-school girls, or a total of 29 percent of elementary-school children, were overweight or obese.

The data show that 33.1 percent of junior-high school boys and 24.2 percent of junior-high school girls, or a total of 28.8 percent of junior-high school children, were overweight or obese.

About 70 million children are expected to be overweight or obese by 2025 if current trends continue, the WHO said.

HPA Community Health Division head Lin Li-ju (林莉茹) said if childhood obesity is ignored, the child has an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease, premature puberty in girls, and asthma.

A recent study showed that children who are obese are more likely to suffer vascular stiffness, increased heart rate, worsened vascular endothelial function and can even harm the structure of the heart in the long term, leading to increased risk of cardiovascular disease by one to two times in adulthood, compared with healthy adults, she said.

The HPA suggests approaching the issues of childhood obesity from three aspects — healthy diet, regular exercise and abundant sleep.

Lin said parents should encourage children to drink water rather than sugary beverages, prepare healthy meals with balanced nutrition for their children, encourage them to eat more fresh vegetables, nuts, brown rice, milk and avoid snacks high in fat, sodium and calories, such as potato chips, fried chicken and fast food.

The agency also suggested that children avoid sitting for long periods (often viewing digital devices), do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, go outdoors and maintain a daily routine that includes a minimum of six to eight hours sleep every night.

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