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Butter as deadly for kids as burger

Kalyan Ray, New Delhi, Mar 5, 2013, DHNS: 1:03 IST

Health hazards

A large number of urban women in the country do not hesitate before offering generous dollops of ghee and butter to their children daily, considering them good for health.

Many women are not only unaware of the connection between poor diet and disease, but they liken unhealthy diet with unhygienic diet. They consider any food healthy, including those with high oil, butter, salt and sugar content, if it is prepared hygienically.

A new study on food preference of schoolchildren and influences exerted by their mothers on food choice suggests that over 50 per cent of the mothers do not have an inkling of the connection between diet and heart disease and cholesterol. Around 80 per cent of the mothers are clueless on the role of diet in developing cancer later in the life.

“Despite high prevalence of obesity among both mothers and children, mothers do not tend to associate overweight with an unhealthy diet or ill-health in the short or long term,” said the study carried out on 1,800 children from 24 schools and the same number of mothers.

Six schools each were selected from Delhi, Agra, Pune and Bangalore for the study. The research, which will appear in the journal “Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism” in a month’s time, coincides with the “Global Burden of Disease” data that flag poor diet as the number one risk factor for the death and disease burden in India.

“We are increasingly adopting unhealthy eating habits. The consumption of processed food, high-salt snacks and chips, pizza, burger and cola are on the rise while intake of fresh fruit and vegetables are going down,” Lalit Dandona, research professor at the Public Health Foundation India, who is not connected to the study, told Deccan Herald.
Many mothers were not concerned about childhood weight gain.

They think a child with chubby cheeks was healthy but not fat and most of the obesity in children was baby fat, which would eventually go away, said Seema Gulati, a researcher at the Centre for Nutrition and Metabolic Research here, that conducted the study. “When asked about the consequences of unhealthy eating, mothers generally mentioned stomach upset and fever,” she said.

Though poor diet has remained one of the top five risk factors in India since the 90s, the latest “Global Burden of Disease” data place diet at the top of the list. “Consumption of high salt and high sugar food, coupled with physical inactivity, also leads to high blood pressure, which is another key risk factor,” Dandona said.

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