Exams make children sick, says IMA survey

Testing times

Over 75 per cent schoolchildren normally fall sick before or during examinations, says a study conducted by the Indian Medical Academy.

The study, titled ‘Exam Preparation Practices’, was conducted across five major cities on 625 students appearing for their board exams this year. It reveals that students tend to ignore their health and well being amidst the chaos of scoring excellent grades in board exams. 

It highlighted that only 24 per cent children get seven to eight hours of sleep a day during exams. Furthermore, 89 per cent children avoid bathing and 83 per cent children prefer junk over healthy food items.

 About 75 per cent children skip their meals almost daily, citing scarcity of time and enormity of syllabus as the reasons while only eight per cent do not have regular meals. “Children sleep less, eat junk food and ignore hygiene which lead to the risk of falling sick during exams. There must be a balance between studying, sleeping and nutrition to avoid illness,” said Anuja Agarwal, chief dietitian, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

At least 74 per cent children said they are scared of not being able to meet their family’s expectations,  41 per cent attributed their anxiety to preparation that is not up to the mark, and 69 per cent study for eight hours or more per day. “Saying 75 per cent children fall ill is little over the top but stress, isolation and anxiety affect them adversely. Parents tend to pressurise children who become victims of paranoia,” said Ameeta Wattal, principal of Springdales school, Delhi.  
 Moreover, for 51 per cent of children interviewed, outdoor playtime before exams is less than two hours a day and 28 per cent do not go out to play at all. Experts said no play slows down metabolism. The study also brings out that 36 per cent children study continuously for three hours or more without taking a single break when experts recommend 10 to 15 minute study-breaks every 45 to 60 minutes of continuous study.

 “Children do not realise that with these practices they are risking illness and that this may end up nullifying their efforts,” said Dr Pawan Gupta, consultant with IMA and the lead author of the study.Doctors suggest that mothers should give essential nutrients like iron, vitamins and minerals to children to ensure better attention span and concentration.

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