Dr. Avnish Jolly, 4th November, 2008 :Recent study conducted by the National Institute for Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) has revealed that school children in Delhi, India are becoming increasingly prone to obesity and hypertension due to regularly smoking and consuming alcohol. The study was conducted on more than 15,000 children, in the age group of 5-18 years, studying in various schools of Delhi. The analysis of different studies on health of the children in the last three years formed the basis of the study.
A child who starts drinking at 15 will need a larger dose of alcohol to get a high at 20, resulting in greater damage to the liver. From a completely uninhibited state to liver failure, medical fraternity warn of severe physical and emotional fallout of liquor consumption at an early age and in the same way smoking from an early age increases the chances of cancer, drinking at an early age increases the complication of the liver.
The study revealed that about 30 percent of the boys and 26 percent girls regularly consume alcohol. More than 60 percent of these children were found to be suffering from obesity and hypertension. The children contributed the habit of regularly drinking to ‘easy availability’, ‘peer pressure’ and ‘watching elders drinking at home’. Even television serials motivate them to drink. While most children confessed to consuming alcohol once in the last six months, others confessed to consuming it more frequently.
Apart from drinking liquor, these children were also found to be eating a lot of junk food, thereby contributing significantly to the problem of obesity. About 3.6 percent boys and 1.3 percent girls, studying in class IX to XII also confessed to smoking regularly. The reason for this being the same – ‘easy availability’.
A similar study was conducted by the Department of Human Nutrition of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in which a total of 2,387 children from middle and secondary schools of Delhi were surveyed.
1.5 percent of these children were found to be regularly consuming alcohol, 10.2 percent consumed betel leaf and 1.9 percent consumed tobacco regularly. The consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other addictive substances amongst school children continues to occupy a premier position among health concerns of the Education Department.