Schools, Obesity, Activism and Education

Obesity on the rise in developing world: Report


The number of obese and overweight people in the developing world nearly quadrupled to almost a billion between 1980 and 2008, a thinktank report said on Friday. There are now far more obese or overweight adults in the developing world than in richer countries, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) said.
The London-based institute said more than a third of all adults around the world — 1.46 billion people — were obese or overweight. Between 1980 and 2008, the numbers of people affected in the developing world rose from 250 million to 904 million. In the developed world, the figure rose from 321 million to 557 million.
“The growing rates of overweight and obesity in developing countries are alarming,” said ODI research fellow Steve Wiggins, who co-authored the Future Diets report. [Times of India 4th January 2014]

In a recent survey cum intervention program conducted by Dr. Mathew, he was surprised to find that one third of sixth grade students were obese in a well-known school in Borivali that had an attached playground! One can only imagine the plight of schools without playgrounds.

Most schools do not have their own playgrounds

As you must have read in the newspapers recently, this is a shocking statistic. Please read https://drspmathew.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/75-schools-dont-have-playgrounds/ to know more.

One possible solution is Homeschooling. In Homeschooling parents are the role models and teachers of their children, for values as well as learning. Parents teach children how to learn, so that together they can go on this journey of learning and discovering. Education has moved out of the classroom into the real world, are you prepared for the future?


Most open spaces in Mumbai have been encroached illegally robbing citizens of playgrounds and recreational grounds

This is another problem that we citizens in cities have been facing. Citizen activism is seen as the key here. http://newlinkroad.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/open-spaces-in-mumbai/

City neighborhoods barely have open spaces for relaxation and enjoyment of the outdoors. The result has taken a toll on our quality of life. The recent success of the AAP has shown the power that ordinary people can exert if they focus and persevere to be a change in their God-given area.

So parents and friends, what are you waiting for? Take charge of your life, the education of your children, and the life of your neighborhood. There is never a better time than now.

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75% schools don’t have playgrounds

‘75% schools in India don’t have playgrounds’ reports Hindustan Times in their 4th January 2014 paper.

WHILE PRIVATE UNAIDED SCHOOLS CAN AFFORD TO RENT OR BUY GROUNDS OR SPORTS CLUBS, STUDENTS IN AIDED SCHOOLS OFTEN HAVE TO PLAY ON POORLY MAINTAINED CIVIC GROUNDS. AND RTE RULES ARE APPLICABLE ONLY TO AIDED SCHOOLS!

This means that many aided schools, which have to comply with Right To Education Act conditions, are not providing any means of physical exercise for their students.


The resulting epidemic of obesity and other lifestyle diseases in the younger generation in urban India can only get worse, given the fact that the majority of children still attend traditional class room model schools.

Unless the Government actively promotes alternative education and homeschooling, such lifestyle diseases are bound to increase in the coming years.

MUMBAI: In space starved city such as Mumbai, few students have the opportunity to play on the school playgrounds. According to figures from the education department, nearly 75% of schools in the city do not have playgrounds, despite it being one of the mandatory infra-structure norms stipulated in the Right to Education Act.

Deprived of playgrounds on their premises, schools are forced to either rent or purchase playgrounds. However schools complained that there is no government support for schools trying to acquire playgrounds.

“We do not have a playground in the school but we have a big ground next to the school. But for the past few years, they have stopped students from using this ground,” said Chandrakanta Pathak, principal, Hindi Vidya Bhavan, Marine Lines.

Some private unaided schools such as the Podar Education Network group of schools in Santacruz have bought playgrounds close to the school.

“Since we do not have a ground inside the school premises, we had to buy another ground close to the school. Our school buses ferry the students to and from the ground,” said Avnita Bir, principal of RN Podar School.

While private unaided schools can afford to rent or purchase good quality grounds or sports clubs, students studying in aided schools often have to play on poorly maintained civic grounds, said academicians. “Aided schools always lose out on good quality sports as they do not have the funds to rent playgrounds. The government should provide them grants for this purpose,” said Arundhati Chavan, president of the Parents Teachers Association, United Forum.

Hypertension in Children?

Hypertension on the rise among children in city

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MUMBAI: Recently Dr Ajit Menon, a cardiologist at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra, treated a 12-year-old boy for hypertension. The child, doctors suspected, was battling “school-related stress”.
“He complained of regular headaches. We put him on anti-hypertension pills, asked his parents to change his diet and taught him to manage the stress,” said Dr Menon.


The boy is among an increasing number of children and teenagers being treated for hypertension. A recent study by the National Institute of Health in the US shows a rise in the number of children between the ages of two and 18 being hospitalised for hypertension (see box). Though no data for India is available, city doctors say the statistics here could not be very different.

Doctors said while some children have high blood pressure because of physiological problems like kidney ailments, lifestyle – poor diet and high stress – is the main cause of hypertension.



“A majority of school and college-going children eat junk food, which has a high quantity of salt in it. Lack of exercise also makes them obese and puts them at a higher risk of hypertension,” said Dr Rohit Agarwal, member of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics. The anxiety to excel in school is also a major cause. “Parents who push children to get good grades are pushing them to a stage where they need medicines to control stress,” said Dr Menon.

The solution is not just early detection. “Many schools conduct health camps, so teenagers are being diagnosed sooner. They need to make lifestyle changes early to eliminate the risk of damage to the heart and kidneys,” said Dr Ganesh Kumar, head of cardiology, Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital.

A growing number of parents have taken their children’s education and health seriously and decided to homeschool them. Besides individualized teaching tailormade for their child, in homeschooling the whole family gets time to grow in relationships with one another and imbibe family values. Studies have shown that stress levels are considerably lower or absent in homeschooled children as well.