It has been observed that urban children are prone to develop Vitamin D deficiency, which is one of the reasons behind the growing trend of obesity among them in Kolkata and West Bengal.
According to city-based doctors, over 15% of the urban children are obese in West Bengal and it is predicted that the number would double in the next five years.
These children with their health issues and immobility tend to avoid physical activities and prefer to stay indoors. Inadequate exposure to sunlight, therefore, causes Vitamin D deficiency in children.
“Maintaining appropriate levels of vitamin D is important because it influences nearly 3,000 of the roughly 25,000 genes in the human body. Sufficient vitamin D help the body to reduce bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol. It also help in a multitude of essential repair and maintenance activities,” says Dr Apurba Ghosh, director of the Institute of Child Health (ICH).
Apart from the major problem of obesity, children also grow a number of other ailments owing to the Vitamin D deficiency.
It causes children to grow susceptible to a number of allergies.
“There are chances of growing allergies of all sorts due to deficiency of Vitamin D. Rickets, which is a problem of delayed growth, weakness in muscles etc can also be caused due to the deficiency,” said Ghosh.
“These days such cases are rampant and a large section of urban children are affected with this problem. One needs to get the right levels of exposure to sunlight everyday in order to avoid health problems. Just as over exposure to sunlight can cause health problems, under exposure is also harmful,” he added.
According to Dr Subhasish Sarkar, paediatrician and private practitioner, obesity among children can attribute to a number of other factors like unhealthy eating habits.
“Children who indulge in minimum physical activity, outdoor games, exercises or activities are bound to become obese. Moreover, these days children are extremely fond of junk food, which do not have any valuable nutrient content, thus adding to the obese factors,” said Sarkar.
Research works have shown that around 75% of the Vitamin D content in our body is generated by our skin’s exposure to the sun.
Further, vitamin D deficiency plays a big role in problem related to metabolism.
In addition, 10% increase in Body Mass Index reduces 4.2% level of vitamin D in human body.
Therefore, for obese children it becomes inevitable to go out in the open and soak in the sunlight.
Sarkar added, “Apart from obesity, Vitamin D deficiency also causes a number of other problems among children.
They might develop boils and sores in the mouth. This may result in burning of the mouth while eating.
It also causes nerve weakness, thus making it very important to have a balanced and com- plete diet with proper Vitamin D content.” It is advised that a person should get in a proper balanced diet regime in order to avoid such health problems.
A sufficient amount of fish, pulses, rice and vegetables is what both Sarkar and Ghosh prescribed for children to maintain their Vitamin D levels in order to avoid obesity and other problems caused by Vitamin D deficiency.
“Food grains, fruits, pulses, rice, fishes and handsome amounts of brassiere (chhola) can ensure proper Vitamin D intake,” suggested Sarkar.