Child­hood Obe­sity and Mal­nu­tri­tion: The Twin Dan­gers

Indonesia Expat - - Content Page -

The re­lease of a re­cent global sur­vey pro­duced by US Stanford University shocked few liv­ing in In­done­sia after find­ing those who live in the coun­try walk the least out of any­where else on Earth. A mul­ti­tude of the­o­ries have been floated as to why this is, but one thing is for cer­tain: it has a dam­ag­ing ef­fect on the lives and well­be­ing of chil­dren.

In­done­sian chil­dren face dual health is­sues which ap­pear to be in con­tra­dic­tion of each other – the rise of obe­sity and con­tin­u­ing mal­nu­tri­tion. With widen­ing in­come in­equal­ity, qual­ity of life dif­fers dra­mat­i­cally across the coun­try and with that dif­fer­ence comes di­ver­gent health needs.

For the mid­dle and up­per classes, child­hood obe­sity and re­lated health prob­lems, such as short­ness of breath and in­creased risk of de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes, are a ma­jor con­cern. For mid­dle and work­ing class In­done­sian chil­dren, mal­nu­tri­tion is an issue which has run- on ef­fects in every part of their lives, in­clud­ing dif­fi­culty con­cen­trat­ing in classes.

How preva­lent is child­hood obe­sity?

Child­hood obe­sity is com­mon in In­done­sia – and grow­ing. In 2010, gov­ern­ment fig­ures found 9.2 per­cent of In­done­sian chil­dren aged be­tween five and 12 could be clas­si­fied as obese or over­weight. By 2013, that num­ber had climbed to 18.8 per­cent. Jakarta, Bangka Beli­tung and Lam­pung had the high­est preva­lence of obese and over­weight chil­dren in 2013. Jakarta ranked num­ber one with a shock­ing 30.3 per­cent.

In­done­sia Med­i­cal Nu­tri­tion­ists As­so­ci­a­tion (PDGMI) Sec­re­tary- Gen­eral Yus­nita Anie said the re­sults are ‘wor­ri­some’ in an in­ter­view with The Jakarta Post.

“There is a trend of over nutri­tion among chil­dren in Jakarta This may cause de­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, which could be very dan­ger­ous for the child’s health,” Anie said.

Anie pointed to the preva­lence of un­healthy foods in Jakarta and said the trend af­fected all chil­dren, not just the mid­dle and up­per classes. She warned a reliance on sug­ary and fatty street foods, as well as sweet drinks, is be­hind the trend.

“Child­hood obe­sity could lead to gall­stones and di­a­betes, among other dis­eases, which in the long term could lead to car­dio­vas­cu­lar and brain dis­ease,” she warned.

What about mal­nu­tri­tion?

It may at first seem il­log­i­cal that In­done­sia would deal with both mal­nu­tri­tion and obe­sity con­cur­rently, but it is a com­mon predica­ment many quickly de­vel­op­ing na­tions find them­selves in. The In­done­sian gov­ern­ment has worked hard in ad­dress­ing mal­nu­tri­tion and poverty and these ef­forts have seen a long term de­cline in re­lated child­hood ill­nesses, like stunted growth.

Stunted growth causes a drop in con­cen­tra­tion lead­ing to poor academic out­comes and is a risk fac­tor for obe­sity and non­com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases in adult­hood, a Tempo re­ported ear­lier this month said.

But bud­get al­lo­ca­tion and novel pro­grams aren’t enough to fully re­solve the prob­lem. A dozen min­istries have re­cently an­nounced plans to sup­port the Scal­ing Up Nutri­tion Move­ment, which aims to ad­dress the causes of mal­nu­tri­tion.

Mal­nu­tri­tion is caused by a num­ber of fac­tors, in­clud­ing poor health ed­u­ca­tion, food in­se­cu­rity and a lack of ac­cess to healthy foods. In­done­sia is par­tic­u­larly prone to this with er­ratic weather and com­mon nat­u­ral dis­as­ters af­fect­ing both ac­cess and har­vests.

This has been sup­ported by Pres­i­dent Joko ‘Jokowi’ Wi­dodo al­lo­cat­ing an in­crease in funds to the erad­i­ca­tion of poverty in the draft 2018 bud­get to sup­port pro­grams from the Fi­nance, Health and other re­lated min­istries.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Indonesia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.