Expert Speak: What Is Causing Chronic Diseases?
Isn’t it bizarre that you know several people with diabetes and weight problems? We set out to get some basic questions answered about aspects that surround us and our families.
Ms. Neelanjana Singh, Nutritionist with Nutri Life Clinic by Heinz Nutrition Foundation has been on board several health panels and committees like Indian Dietetics Association. She has conducted several workshops on health and the right diet. Today she draws a disturbing picture about the changing ways of Indian schools and work places, and the resultant impact on health.
How prone are children to weight gain and diabetes, these days?
In urban areas, i.e. in cities, almost a quarter of children studying in elite schools have been found to be either hypersensitive or overweight. In this setting of urban households where processed food and limited physical activity occurs, predisposition to such problems is pretty evident.
Have you ever come across a healthy school canteen?
I would not say there exists a perfect school canteen. Many schools are working on developing a healthy menu for children. Many schools have eliminated colas and other fast foods from their canteen menu and definitely the awareness about such problems is bringing about a change.
What's your take on office canteens?
I know of a startup firm which serves only organic and healthy food to its employees. I do not know how long they will sustain this. In general, again there is some desire to change office canteen menus but certain items such as samosas and pakodas are likely to stay on. These might be in addition to healthy food items but these items will stay.
How does irregular and unhealthy diet at a young age affect you later?
Unhealthy diets do not affect you in a day or two. The consequences of an irregular and unhealthy diet are always long term, i.e. in the form of chronic diseases which could be cardiac problems, obesity, hypertension and diabetes. This unhealthy diet over a period of time causes imbalance in the nutrients that are provided, thus leading to blockage of arteries or raised blood pressure, etc.
What is the worst mistake that parents make with their child's diet?
Not one factor is responsible for all problems but a combination of factors which leads to it. Parents are short of time so they buy processed food and fast foods instead of cooking healthy meals for their children. Moreover with better income status parents give in to the demands of children which include buying foods items readily available. Other factor is that taste for vegetables and fruits is not usually provided to children at an early age because instant packaged foods are available these days. Such foods do not provide the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables and thus children cannot appreciate this taste later on as well.
What is the thumb rule for diabetics?
The thumb rule is to have as much of unprocessed food as possible which includes coarse cereals and pulses, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables in raw and uncooked forms.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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