Quarter of urban Indian schoolchildren overweight: survey

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Indy Lifestyle Online

India is developing an obesity problem in its urban schools, a survey showed Friday, even though half of all children under five in the country are malnourished.

Almost a quarter (23 percent) of children aged between five and 14 in city schools were overweight, according to figures from a survey conducted by EduSports, an agency which promotes sport in schools.

Nearly one in 10 (11 percent) were found to be obese, according to measurements of the children's body mass index.

The statistics point to the widening wealth gap between Indian cities, where the middle classes are booming, and impoverished rural areas where hundreds of millions survive on subsistence farming.

About 4,000 children were surveyed in 15 cities around India.

"We undertook this survey because we wanted to identify the gaps in physical education for young children today," said the co-founder of EduSports, Saumil Majmudar, in a statement.

India fights a constant battle to feed its teeming population, with more than half of all children under five considered moderately or severely malnourished, according to the World Food Programme.

Health professionals blame a lack of sports facilities and changing dietary habits - meaning increased consumption of modern fast food that is high in fats and sugar - for the rise in obesity in urban areas.