Drinking and smoking could be contributing factors to obesity and hypertension among children in Delhi, a new government study has found.
The National Institute for Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) found that about 30 per cent boys and about 26 per cent girls in Delhi schools consume liquor regularly. The study dealt with the age group of five years to 18 years.
Over 60 per cent of the frequent child drinkers were found to be obese and also had hypertension.
Analysis of different studies on health of over 15,000 school children in the last three years brought this fact to fore. These children confessed to drinking — some of them in huge quantity — but did not disclose where they had consumed liquor.
“That was not the specific question asked because the study was related to health of adolescents,” said a NIPCCD official.
The reason for taking up drinking, according to what the children said during the study, was its easy availability and peer pressure.
“Some children also confessed that seeing elders drink at home induced them into taking up drinking,” said the report released recently.
While most children said they drank liquor once in the last six months, others said they drank more frequently. “Drinking was one of the causes for obesity. These children were also found to be consuming a lot of junk food leading to health problems,” said the report.
About 16.5 per cent children in Delhi schools were found to be obese with the percentage on the higher side in affluent schools than in government schools.
Drinking also led to poor academic performance, said the report. The analysis also said about 3.6 per cent boys and 1.3 per cent girls, studying in class IX to XII, also confessed to smoking regularly.
Sanjay Gupta of Chetna, an NGO working with children, said drug-abuse among children was increasing in Delhi because of easy availability. “You can get drugs from a roadside vendor in Delhi. Teenagers easily get cigarettes and liquor though it is illegal,” he said.
In Delhi, the legal age for drinking is 25 years whereas in states like Goa and Karnataka the drinking age is 21.
S.L. Jain, chairperson of the National Progressive School's Conference, termed it a social problem rather than an educational problem.