These findings are particularly relevant in a nation where the number of underweight children is decreasing, while the number of the overweight is increasing.
According to a group of researchers, some of the contributing factors include children spending more time watching television or playing games on the computer, especially for those living in urban areas. At the same time, fast food is now as easily obtainable as street food in Indonesia.
Diet and activity linked to obesity
In the study of 1,143 children from six to 12 years old, researchers found that low physical activity independently or moderate or lower physical activity together with a high-energy intake in diet are high-risk factors for Indonesian children to become overweight or obese.
It added that 10.8% of Indonesian children were overweight, while 8% were obese.
Furthermore, children of an older age appeared to have a higher risk of being overweight or obese. This corresponded not only with them having a higher energy intake in their diet but also that they tended to have less activity than those in the younger range.
Referring to the findings, the report said: “Overweight and obese children are likely to develop increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and impaired glucose tolerance. Excess childhood weight may increase the likelihood of heart disease in adulthood because of the early establishment of these risk factors.”
A problem possible to address
“Overweight and obesity is a complex, multi-factorial, chronic disease but ultimately the result from an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure,” said the researchers.
This means that the problem can be remedied.
The researchers recommended a programme of interventions, including the stimulation of physical activity at school and during leisure time, in order to reduce the effects of high energy intake in diet as well as to encourage more healthy activity to prevent the risk of overweightness and obesity.
Source: Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition
“Association of energy intake and physical activity with overweight among Indonesian children 6–12 years of age”
Authors: Heryudarini Harahap, Sandjaja, Moesijanti Soekatri, Ilse Khouw and Paul Deurenberg