Background & objectives: Childhood obesity is a known precursor to obesity and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in adulthood. However, the magnitude of the problem among children and adolescents in India is unclear due to paucity of well-conducted nationwide studies and lack of uniformity in the cut-points used to define childhood overweight and obesity. Hence an attempt was made to review the data on trends in childhood overweight and obesity reported from India during 1981 to 2013.
Methods: Literature search was done in various scientific public domains from the last three decades using key words such as childhood and adolescent obesity, overweight, prevalence, trends, etc. Additional studies were also identified through cross-references and websites of official agencies.
Results: Prevalence data from 52 studies conducted in 16 of the 28 States in India were included in analysis. The median value for the combined prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity showed that it was higher in north, compared to south India. The pooled data after 2010 estimated a combined prevalence of 19.3 per cent of childhood overweight and obesity which was a significant increase from the earlier prevalence of 16.3 per cent reported in 2001-2005.
Interpretation & conclusions: Our review shows that overweight and obesity rates in children and adolescents are increasing not just among the higher socio-economic groups but also in the lower income groups where underweight still remains a major concern.