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India joins the anti-obesity campaign

India has joined the struggle to stem the tide of obesity, which has seemed until now to have been more of a concern in the Western world. The government there has decided that school children from the age of nine will have to undergo biannual fitness tests as part of its strategy (the National Physical Fitness Program) to encourage young Indians to exercise more.

16 Sep 2012

India has joined the struggle to stem the tide of obesity, which has seemed until now to have been more of a concern in the Western world.

The government there has decided that school children from the age of nine will have to undergo biannual fitness tests as part of its strategy (the National Physical Fitness Program) to encourage young Indians to exercise more.

The decision follows publication of a report of a study by the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre of 20,000 pupils aged between five and 16 that found that more than 6.5 per cent of them were overweight in 2005, compared with a little over five per cent only two years earlier.

The results of the pupils’ physical tests will be combined with those of their academic performance for their annual school assessments.

The Indian Government tried something similar nearly 50 years ago, but the plan was dropped after the tests at the time were criticised as being inaccurate.

The latest decision is open for public comment but Prof Manu Raj, the paediatric cardiologist who led the Amrita study, has already questioned how, apart from the “serious academic consequences”, children with medical issues would be tested accurately. “Fitness assessment in children is prone to high measurement error,” he said. “This is an idea with a good intention, but destined to fail.”

DN


Published: 16 Sep 2012