Schoolchildren in north Indian metros are less healthy than their counterparts in the rest of the country, a report said Monday.
The third edition of the 'EduSports School Health and Fitness Survey' covered over 49,000 children in the age group of seven to seventeen years in over 100 schools in 54 cities across India. The assessments were done in the academic year 2011-12.
"A higher incidence of obesity is observed among children from the northern states - Punjab, Delhi/NCR (National Capital Region), Rajasthan, UP (Uttar Pradesh) and Haryana as 24 percent of them have high body mass index (BMI) as against the national average of 19.9 percent," the survey said.
"Low fitness levels coupled with the lack of basic skills to play sports, unhealthy eating habits and dependence on television, internet and video games for entertainment puts an entire generation of children at a risk of growing up to become unhealthy and inactive adults," it added.
The survey added that nearly 40 percent of school-going children in India do not have the right BMI and almost 20 percent of them show signs of obesity, possessing poor body strength, poor flexibility and have undesirable BMI scores.
Geographically, children in the non-metros performed better across various fitness parameters compared to their counterparts in the metros.
One out of four children in the metros is overweight compared to one out of six children in the non-metros. Additionally, children in non-metros also demonstrated better anaerobic capabilities and flexibility.
Further, nearly one in two children covered under the study had poor flexibility levels and body strength making them unsuitable for most sports.
Girls fared better than boys, as a total of 63.9 percent of them had a better overall BMI and flexibility as compared to 58.2 percent of the boys.
However, lack of infrastructure to play is not the primary reason behind the falling fitness levels as children from schools that did not have sufficient infrastructure did equally well compared to schools that had sufficient infrastructure for children to play.
"It has been proved that with just a couple of hours of focused physical education programme a week it is possible to effect a small but significant change," said Saumil Majmudar, CEO and co-founder, EduSports.