If you thought only obese children run the risk of developing heart diseases; think again.
A study conducted by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research has established a link between variability of thinness and cardio-metabolic risk factors in school children.
The cross-sectional study was conducted between January 2005 and March 2007 among 16,245 children from about 100 public and private Delhi schools, which included the municipal schools.
“The prevalence of cardio-metabolic risk factors technically should be zero in thin children. But the research reveals there is a high prevalence of metabolic over-nutrition in school children from Delhi. There can be discordance between the nutrition profile as assessed by the body size (thinness) and the nutritionist profile assessed from bio-markers (metabolic over-nutrition),” said Prof HPS Sachdev, senior consultant paediatrics and clinical epidemiology, Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research, who was part of the research team.
One hundred and eighty school children, between the age group of 5 and 18 years, were chosen from different socio-economic group for the study.
This study was designed to compare prevalence of thinness in school children by four Body Mass Index (BMI) references in common use — namely Cole, WHO, Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta, and Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) — and relationship of thinness with absence of cardio-metabolic risk factors in these BMI references.
Overall prevalence of thinness varied between 6.6% and 16.9% for boys, and 6.5% and 10.3% for girls using IAP and CDC references, respectively.
“When the children were screened it was observed that not just obese children had cardio-metabolic risk factors but it was seen also in thin children. It has a lot to do with their lifestyle. They should do a lot of physical exercises and eat healthy food,” said Dr Umesh Kapil, professor, department of public health nutrition at AIIMS, who was also a part the research team.
The study further revealed the prevalence of any cardio-metabolic aberration according to IAP standard was 4% among boys (36 out of 906), 6.7% (61 out of 906) according to Cole, 11% (100 out of 906) as per WHO standards and 11.8% (107 out of 906) as per CDC standard.
Among girls, IAP standard puts the percentage at 5.6% (54 out of 967), 7.9% (76 out of 967) according to Cole, 7.4% (72 out of 967) as per WHO standard and 7.5% (73 out of 967) according to CDC standard.
“If a child is born under weight and has a birth weight of around 2kg, he or she will be forced to eat a lot during growing up years. As a result they develop a tendency of storing food in the form of fat instead of utilizing it. These fats get deposited in the blood vessels and they run the risk of having diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases,” said Dr PS Narang, senior consultant, department of paediatrics, Max Hospital.
“To avoid these complications, they should exercise regularly for at least 20-30 minutes a day and avoid bad carbohydrates in the form of chocolates, pastries, burgers, pizzas , fried foods. They should eat more of fruits and vegetables,” he added.