Bangkok kids a 'high obesity risk'

Primary school students in Bangkok have a higher risk of developing heart disease than their counterparts in other provinces as an annual survey found 66% of them were suffering from high cholesterol and 20% from obesity, a nutrition expert warned.

Dr Chutima Sirikulchayanon, a lecturer at Mahidol University’s Faculty of Public Health, said on Thursday the survey was carried out recently in four public elementary schools in the capital as part of Thai Health Promotion Foundation's (THPF) ongoing initiative to develop school models for healthy children, Daily News newspaper reported.

Dr Chutima said the latest findings were close to the alarming results of previous surveys conducted between 2004-2006 that showed 78% of young schoolers, on average, in the capital were diagnosed with high cholesterol and 20% were obese.

One in three obese and overweight children had dark skin discoloration on their neck which was a possible warning sign of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

It could impact a child's quality of life in adulthood if the problem was not solved, she added.

“Obesity results from eating high-energy dense foods, low consumption of fruit and vegetables … spending too much on TV and playing games more than exercise. All need to work together to solve the problem in the early stage,” Dr Chutima said. 

Dr Walasinee Adulyanon, director of THPF’s social communication and campaign section, said changing the youngsters’ eating behaviour was a difficult and time-consuming process. It would need top-down participation from policy makers, teachers and parents to educate children on the obesity issues and instill healthy eating habits in them. 

She said the environment in and around schools should be free from unhealthy foods and adults should also set a good dietary example for children.

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