Nearly half of the country’s 250 million adolescents are obese and experts blame the marketing muscle of fast food chains and quick-serve restaurants for it.
“The number of overweight and obese children in Delhi has increased from 16 per cent in 2002 to 24 per cent in 2007,” said Dr Anoop Misra, director, department of Diabetes & Metabolic Diseases, Fortis Hospital.
Dr Misra was speaking at a seminar on “Is India drifting towards McDonaldisation?” organised by Heal India and the Diabetes Foundation of India (DFI) to kick-off an awareness campaign on health hazards linked to fast foods.
His study on 15,872 students from New Delhi, Mumbai, Agra, Jaipur and Allahabad reveals that 73 per cent children eat junk food because of taste; 68 per cent are tempted by the advertisements and 63 per cent children munch on snacks while viewing television.
“There is a substantial link between being overweight and obese in childhood and body weight in later life,” said Dr Misra.
“Fast food is a primary reason for obesity in India, especially among students,” said nutritionist and DFI director Rekha Sharma.
With junk food advertisements on children's channels and primetime TV, most parents say they have a tough time getting their children to eat healthy.
“Children are driven towards unhealthy fast food due to their marketing on television and other media. The government needs to limit snack food sales in schools and stop advertisements targeting children,” said Swadeep Srivastava of Heal India.