Wednesday, April 7, 2010

No child’s play

Children forced into the rat race at an early age by parents are prone to a range of health problems

Class VII student Barnali Majumder dreams of "escaping the clutches of studies" whenever her mother pressurises her to work harder. 

    Barnali, however, does not consider playing with friends as a way of relaxation. "I prefer cycling and swimming. I don't have time to go out and play with my friends," she says. 
    Her mother, Jharna, a primary school teacher, says, "Gone are the days of games and sports, children don't have any time, so exercise is the best way to stay healthy." 
    Jharna is of the opinion that exercise solves most ailments and is worried that a lack of exercise may be responsible for Barnali's eyesight problems. 
    It is a situation that Dr Supriyo Chatterjee, a senior consultant in 
general and paediatric optometry, is familiar with. "Two common causes of myopia include lack of outdoor activities resulting in increased television watching or playing computer games and parental pressure which results in long study hours without any breaks," he says. 
    Parents with no time to look after their children further deteriorate the situation. "Many mothers often switch on the TV to keep their kids busy. Such a practice often leads children to become TV addicts and the eyes suffer from
continued viewing," says the doctor. 
    Parents, however, blame the intense competition in schools. "Our children have no time to play. My son studies in Class V and is so busy with school, tuition and creative writing classes that he has no time to play. We can't do much nowadays because the curriculum is so competitive," says Mandira, a housewife. 
    Her son blames peer pressure for his schedule. "My classmates and I always talk about getting good marks in exams. I want to do better than them when I sit for an exam and feel the need to keep on studying. I am too tired to exercise as all my energy is spent rushing from one tuition to another." 
    Experts believe that the way parents treat children plays a major role in this issue. "Children nowadays are mini adults, they aren't kids anymore. When would they have the time to play around 
as they are thrown into the rat race so early in life? Parents nowadays do not have adequate time to invest in their kids and hence want the kids to behave like miniature adults. They do not want the kids to play around as that would require more supervision," says clinical and rehabilitation psychologist Paromita Mitra Bhaumik. 
    Another culprit leading to poor health in kids is fast food. Here, parents don't have the time to make a wholesome meal and kids gorge on unhealthy food. "However unlike the US and the UK, where kids feasting on fast food have numerous parks to play around, kids here do not have that option. The numbers of playgrounds is decreasing with each passing day. All these combined together leads to deteriorating physical health among children," she adds. 
    (Inputs by Tania Ghosh)

Work it out

 More and more people are becoming aware of the importance of keeping fit in order to keep diseases at bay. Busy lifestyles however mean that urban lifestyle diseases are on a rise. 

    There are three types of problems seen increasingly in the urban populace: 1. People becoming increasingly overweight to the extent of being obese 2. High blood pressure that could be stress related or genetic and 3. Diseases affecting bone density including osteoporosis 
    Obesity and hypertension are common among both men and women, however I see about one out of three women suffering from osteoporosis. 

    The requisite exercise and diet depends on the condition the person is in. 
It is important that overweight people have some mental discipline when it comes to health. Overweight people are often pretty enthusiastic when they start with a weight loss schedule. What often happens is that they yo-yo between going to the gym, binging and going back to the sedentary lifestyle and hitting the gym again. 
    Some people, particularly young
sters, opt for drastic measures such as crash dieting and over-exercise. The key here is to go slow and steady. The body needs an hour of exercise at the most each day. Over-exercising takes place if the duration, intensity and frequency are overdone for the individual's fitness level. Overexercise could happen for something as simple as the incline on the treadmill being too steep. 
Recommended routine: Low im
pact cardiovascular exercises, aerobics, walking, cycling and swimming. Start with 30 minutes a day and gradually increase to 60 minutes. Diet: Low fat diet. Exercise alone will not help in losing weight. 
Those suffering from hypertension often have high blood pressure. It is important to keep the exercises to a lowimpact such as walking, swimming and using gym equipment as part of the exercise routine. Recommended routine: Light weight training Diet: Less salt, low fat diet. The food should be healthy. People suffering from hypertension can also be obese. 
More women than men suffer from this condition. I have seen cases of osteoporosis as well as osteopenia and osteoarthritis. All these conditions involve bone density. It is important for those afflicted with these conditions to get involved in an exercise programme that will increase bone strength. Weight training is an excellent way to increase the bone strength as are some machines. Other than going to the gym, walking, taking the stairs and playing tennis are recommended. Swimming and cycling, however, 
do not help. 
    Recommended routine: Use dumbbells at the gym. Vitamin D, which is obtained through sunlight, is also important. 
    Diet: Increase the calcium intake for stronger bones. Food such as milk, yogurt, orange juice, sardines, egg yolk, tuna and green vegetables help in strengthening bones. 
Your body needs a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day. It is important to be relaxed. Being fit does not necessarily mean going to the gym and working out. Do what relaxes you. It could be taking a stroll in the park or deep breathing through pranayama. Go to the spa and get a massage. 
    Recommended routine: Every individual has their own connect be it music, breathing or yoga that act as a stress buster. 

    Diet: It is important to have a regular diet with six mini meals for constant release of energy. If one is very stressed out, then not having food will increase stress and make them irritable. Mini meals result in regular energy spurts. The diet should have proteins, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. A sandwich with paneer and vegetables is a good example. 
    (Jain is a clinical exercise specialist) 
    As told to Sudakshina Ghosh

City hearts beat to fat, sugar CHOLESTEROL

High Risk Of Cardiac Arrest, Finds Study

Mumbai: All is definitely not well with the heart of the city—both young and old. A study on Mumbaikars by P D Hinduja Hospital reveals some gloomy facts, highlighting the need for urgent steps to stem the impending cardiac epidemic. Metabolic factors that increase risk of heart disease by two-fold and diabetes by fivefold, was unbelievably high in the sample group. 

    The study conducted on 560 people (302 men, 246 women) aged 20-90 revealed 20% had more than three out of five metabolic factors like obesity, diabetes, high triglycerides (bad cholesterol), low HDL-C (good cholesterol) and elevated blood pressure. An equally worrying revelation was that 79.01% were overweight or obese. As many as 95% had at least one abnormal parameter. 
    The prevalence of metabolic factors was much higher in males at 25.16% as compared to females at 12.6%. But most importantly, the study revealed
beyond doubt that young hearts were particularly at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases as most of those who showed low levels of HDL-C or good cholesterol were in the age group of 20-40 years. "About 65% of those with less of good cholesterol were between 20-40 years," said Dr T F Ashavaid, head, department of Laboratory Medicine, PD Hinduja Hospital, who oversaw the project, adding obesity was one of the biggest concerns. 
    Lipoprotein A (LpA), be
lieved to be responsible for heart attacks at a younger age, was found in elevated levels, and females particularly were high on this parameter. "The study showed about 26.37% of males and 33.73%females had elevated levels of LpA," said researcher Apurva Sawant. "Just about 5% of the sample size was free of factors adding to morbidity," said Sawant. 
    Similar was the case with triglycerides or bad cholesterol. About 40% had elevated fasting blood glucose levels and 
triglyceride. "Indians have a peculiar form of dyslipidemia where triglyceride is more and HDL is less, it makes them more prone to heart problems," said Dr Aashish Contractor, head of preventive cardiology and rehabilitation, Asian Heart Institute. But experts say it may not be enough to blame genes. "Genetics can be managed with a good lifestyle," said Contractor. "Less physical activity and more refined food is putting the population at a heightened risk." 
Young, Obese And In Clear Danger 

95% of the people had at least one abnormal parameter 20% of people were found to be suffering from metabolic syndrome About 79.01% were either overweight or obese 39.96% had high fasting blood glucose and triglycerides 
Low HDL-C (good cholesterol) in men aged 20-40 was 64.91% 
Lipoprotein A (LpA), believed to cause premature heart attacks, was high in 26.37% of males and 33.73% females 
Elevations of serum CRP carry predictive power for development of heart disease 
Around 10% had high levels of CRP, a cardiac marker 
Of those with elevated CRP, 86.95% were obese 
    *Study size: 560 people