New documentary on the ill-effects of junk food on Indian teens, adoloscents

Sep 29, 2013, 10:02 IST | Saurabh Datar

A BBC documentary takes a look at the obesity phenomenon among teenagers and adolescents in middle-class India

The advent of McDonald’s, KFC and other purveyors of junk food has gotten us addicted to their wares, fattening our children, making them inactive and unhealthy. It’s quite visible in every neighbourhood -- children who eat a lot, do little physical activity and end up being tired and obese.

This World: India's Supersize Kids exposes the ignorance with which we are consuming western products

BBC’s Anita Rani tries to investigate the ‘obesity epidemic’ in This World: India’s Supersize Kids. The documentary follows three obese kids -- Sagar, Kaleb (13) and Adit (20). Their upper-middle class parents dote on them and fulfill their every wish. While the documentary puts the spotlight on the kids, it serves as a wake-up call to parents.

Adit’s mother (who weighs 142 kgs) argues with the doctor that eating fast food doesn’t necessarily cause health problems, because she had “read somewhere that an American man who ate junk food all his life lived up to the age of 105.”

It exposes the ignorance with which we are consuming western products. Chandra Bhushan, from the Centre for Science and Environment, says, “We are just following the western example of first becoming fat, and then spending a huge amount of money on healthcare.”

But, Rani misses out on several important points. Why did she not speak to someone from McDonald’s, if she knows they’re selling unhealthier food in India as compared to the UK? She also misses the larger picture. With the infusion of technology in our lives (elevators, escalators, AC cars, etc) we need to start changing lifestyles, not undergo surgery.

The biggest misconception is that we’ll be fine if we follow our elders’ diet advice. What we forget is that they walked to work and cleaned their own homes. The fat was burnt naturally. We, on the other hand, lead sedentary lives. We have to walk the extra mile to stay healthy.

Rani’s documentary is an eye-opener to the munch-happy families that populate malls. To quote from the documentary, “India has the largest diabetic population in the world, with more than 50 million sufferers.”

This World: India’s Supersize Kids premieres on BBC World News on September 28 and 29.

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