Wednesday, 19 January 2011

ICMR guidelines on obesity control: After US, India follows suit to make its people slim and healthy

By Syed Akbar

Oven hot pizzas, crispy French fries, spicy hot dogs, and yummy burgers may go off your 
daily menu if the
Indian Council of Medical Research has its way. Concerned over high rate of obesity among 
Indians,
particularly children and young adults, ICMR plans to come out with new dietary 
guidelines, which will tell
you to avoid fast or junk food.

Obesity and overweight are often blamed on junk food that includes pizzas, French fries, 
burgers,
sandwiches, curry puffs, aloo samosas, potato chips and cream-filled pastry. And ICMR, 
which comes out
with dietary and nutrition recommendations at regular intervals, now plans to suggest 
that Indians stay away
from the junk food if they want to stay fit and healthy. The ICMR's move follows the US 
government's
decision last month to revise nutrition standards for food items sold for schoolchildren.

But pizza lovers need not lose their heart. Fast food companies plan to fine-tune their 
products to meet the
nutritional and dietary requirements of ICMR. Your favourite pizza and burger will now 
come loaded with
less calories and low cholesterol content. They will satiate your taste buds even while 
working light on the
stomach, if fast food companies are to be believed.

"All the time we innovate and experiment with our products. When ICMR comes out with the 
new
guidelines, we will definitely bring out sandwiches and other foodstuff that are healthy, 
tasty, less fattening
and appealing to all children and youngsters," promises a spokesperson of Subway from 
Chennai.

Other fast food companies like Domino's too plan to fine-tune their menu to meet ICMR 
standards to fight
obesity. "We are open to changes and innovation," said a representative of corporate 
communications of
Domino's, Noida.

While it takes time for fast food companies to innovate and adjust their menu, official 
statistics present a
grim picture of the health of Indian children, particularly those living in urban areas. 
One in eight children
in the country is overweight. Almost one-third of the children in the country will become 
obese if their diet
is not fine-tuned immediately.

According to Dr VM Katoch, ICMR director-general, the new guidelines on obesity control 
will include
recommendation that will bring behavioural change in the eating habits. Already the 
city-based National
Institute of Nutrition, an ICMR constituent body, in its 14-point dietary guidelines 
suggest that people
should avoid over-eating to prevent over-weight and obesity.

"Proper physical activity is essential to maintain desirable body weight. Processed and 
ready-to-eat foods
should be used judiciously. Sugar should be used sparingly. And salt should be used in 
minimum quantity,"
the NIN guidelines point out.

The obesity levels in the present generation are so high that health researchers looking 
at the dietary habits
and lifestyle changes have come to conclusion that the present generation will be the 
first in human history
with a shorter life expectancy than their parents, observes nutrition consultant Dr 
Suneetha Sapur.

"The main fear is child and adolescent obesity, which has now reached epidemic 
proportions in all
industrial countries and is fast catching in our country ," she adds.

Ergonomics and obesity expert Prof Dr S Bakthtiar Choudhary agrees. "junk food is devoid 
of minerals,
fibre and have many preservatives. Besides junk food, eating in front of TV is the other 
main reason for
obesity".

The new final draft recommendations of the ICMR on the total calorie intake for Indians 
fix 910 for boys
between one and two years; 2030 for children between 10 and 11 years; and 3060 for boys 
between 17 and
18 years. In case of girls, the calorie intake is 830, 1740 and 2450 respectively.

Men who lead a sedentary life need take 2320 calories per day, those with moderate work 
2730 and those
involved in heavy work 3490 calories. The corresponding figures for women are 1900, 2230 
and 2550
calories.

=============================================================================

Following are the healthy weights and heights of a reference person in India:

Reference infant of India:
0 to 6 months: 5.4 kgs
6 to 12 months: 8.4 kgs

Reference child of India:

1 to 3 years: 12.9 kgs
4 to 6 years: 18 kgs
7 to 9 years: 25.1 kgs

Reference boy of India:

10 to 12 years: 34.3 kgs
13 to 15 years: 47.6 kgs
16 to 17 years: 55.4 kgs

Reference girl of India:

10 to 12 years: 35 kgs
13 to 15 years: 46 kgs
16 to 17 years: 52.1 kgs

Adult reference person:

Man: 18 to 29 years: 60 kgs
Woman: 18 to 29: 55 kgs

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