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Children and women becoming overweight

A recent World Bank study on malnutrition in Sri Lanka has revealed that over 10 per cent of the school children in the Colombo District have been found to be overweight, while 20 per cent of the women, in the age group of 15 – 49, were also overweight.

The report said malnutrition includes both under nutrition and overweight.

Though the report concentrated on malnutrition, overweight is an emerging public health problem in Sri Lanka which will impede economic growth if it was left unaddressed.

Unlike under-nutrition, overweight is currently concentrated among specific population groups such as the relatively well off and those living in the urban sector, particularly in the Western Province, it stated.

Overweight is the main cause of higher risks of cardio-vascular, diabetes and other non communicable diseases. Some research, though inconclusive, revealed that children born with low birth weight who show rapid weight gain later in life are more prone to non-communicable diseases than those born with normal weight.

However, 30 to 40 percent women in each sector are malnourished either by overweight or underweight and in many zones maternal under-nutrition coexists with maternal overweight. The estate sector has the highest levels of maternal underweight, the report also said.

In Colombo city 28.5 percent of women in the age group 15 – 49 were overweight and in other urban areas overweight among women was 24.3 percent. In the rural sector it was 14.6 percent and in the estate sector it was only 3.2 percent. The national average of overweight women was 20 percent, the report said.

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