Syndrome X – Is Your Teen Protected?

Neetu Ralhan
11 to 16 years

Created by Neetu Ralhan
Updated on Sep 01, 2021

Syndrome X Is Your Teen Protected
Reviewed by Expert panel

Aren’t we always striving to raise children who are healthy, active and at the top of their game at all times! I have learned that when it comes to parenting a teen, one can never really be over informed. However due to a considerable lack of factual information; many parents are unsure about what goes into the making of a healthy teen who will grow up into a healthy adult.

My child is active, loves sports and gaming, hates most fruits and eats fast food three times a month. A typical urban teen you might say! Last year, his pediatrician advised he was overweight for his age (now almost 12). The good doctor also shared with me the possible future repercussions of excess body weight in tweens (children aged 8-14 years). That is when I was familiarized with Syndrome X, the flip side of our ever-evolving modern urban lifestyle.

What is Syndrome X?
In layman terms, Syndrome X is the pathway to a future of serious health disorders. It is a collection of health conditions that put a child (or an adult) at a higher risk of developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes as an adult. These conditions act much like a warning sign, highlighting an urgent need to make rigorous changes in a person’s diet and lifestyle.

What are these health conditions?
These health problems include:
1. Excess body weight, particularly belly fat
2. High blood sugar levels
3. Abnormal levels of blood cholesterol
4. High blood pressure

Although having only one of these symptoms does not mean that a child has Syndrome X, but it does increase their risk of developing other conditions subsequently.

These sound scary and are more like adults’ health issues, what does this have to do with my teen / preteen?
Our children, particularly our teenagers live a really fast paced life. The time and the inclination to eat healthy and live healthy are often taken over by studies, tuitions, friends, net surfing, increased competition, peer pressure and other teenage issues. The inevitable outcome – A sedentary lifestyle and a compromised diet, both of which are precursors to ill health.

Some important facts to help you understand the gravity of this issue:
• A 2009 study in 5 Indian cities (Delhi, Jaipur, Pune, Allahabad, Agra) by Fortis Hospital found that 1 in 4 Indian teens in the age group 14-18 years is overweight and at the risk of developing syndrome X.
• A study by AIIMS found that private schools have a higher percentage of overweight children.
• Almost 20% of school going boys and girls in India are believed to be overweight.
• Experts say that owing to unhealthy eating, hardening and blockage of arteries can begin as early as 11 years in boys and 15 years in girls.
• Unmindful eating has given rise to instances of type 2 diabetes in Indian children, which was earlier, a rarity.

What puts a child at risk?
Following are some of the most common factors that expose preteens and teens to Syndrome X or one of its components.
• Eating a diet high in calories and fat - white breads, pizza, burgers, wafers, cakes, cookies, fast food, instant noodles, momos, Indian snacks such as samosa, pakoras, and savories.
• Not eating adequate fresh fruits and vegetables.
• Consuming high amounts of sodium and trans fats through junk food. Trans fats increase bad cholesterol and lower the good cholesterol that can eventually lead to heart disease.
• Frequent consumption of artificially sweetened beverages – fruit drinks, carbonated drinks, sports drinks, beer.
• Physical inactivity – spending long hours playing video games, surfing the Internet or watching TV.
• Hormonal changes brought about by the onset of puberty.
• Family history of heart disease, hypertension or diabetes.

What Can I do to protect my child?
The following simple measures can help minimize the risk for your child and ensure that she grows into a healthy adult.
• Sharing information. In my own experience, half the battle was won when I shared my learning of these potential health hazards with my child. Now he is conscious of what he eats and has developed a liking for some fruits.
• It will help to keep a check on your child’s weight as per their age and height. Your pediatrician can help you determine your child’s Body Mass Index (BMI).
• A lop sided diet disturbs balance of nutrition. Ensuring that your child’s meals include a fair amount of all nutrients – vitamins, minerals, carbs and protein.
• Ensuring at least one hour of physical activity every day. Encouraging the child to take up a sport, jog, cycle, skate, skip rope or swim.
• Restricting consumption of high calorie and sugary foods now may have a huge impact on your child’s health as an adult.

My child is not a teen yet, should I still be concerned?
A child’s preferences develop in the early years and will carry on well into adolescence. As our children grow older, trying to alter their eating and lifestyle habits can be an uphill task. Therefore, it is never too early to steer your child into living a healthy, active life.

My child looks fit, is active and eats healthy. She is safe, right!
Absolutely! However, there is a flip side to this situation which demands equal attention from parents.
• According to UNICEF, more than half of teenaged girls (15-19 years) in India are anemic and almost 50% are underweight. It will help to ensure that your young lady is as healthy internally.

• A 2010 survey by ASSOCHAM, India revealed that a large number of teens in metropolitan cities consume excessive alcohol and tobacco which leads to “academic problems, menstrual problems, poor overall health, mental health problems, accidents and violence”. Open communication with your teen, rather than hushing up these issues may help them exercise self-control.

Lastly, as James Baldwin rightly said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” Perhaps we as parents need to have a second look at our own lifestyle and set an example that our children can follow…!


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This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Jun 18, 2013

Well compiled and an eye opener ... Thanks for the information Neetu !!!

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| Jun 20, 2013

Another lifestyle disease! I was completely unaware of this. Thank you Neetu for the information provided in the blog - I now know what to watch out for :)

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| Jun 25, 2013

Good information

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| Jun 25, 2013

very informative n practical

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| Jun 26, 2013

Neetuji u hv compiledva vry informative blog. I totaly agree wd u dat we shld set eg to our children by mking changes in our lifestyle.

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| Jun 27, 2013

Thanks everyone :)

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| Aug 27, 2015

???? ?????? ???? ?? ??? ?? ?? ?????? ???? ??? ?? ?????? ????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ????? ???? ??? ???? ?? ???????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ? ??????? ???? ??? ??? ?? ????? ?? ???? ?????????? ??? ??? ????? ??? ??? ?? ?????? ?? ???? ?? ????? ???? ???? ????? ??? ?? ?? ?????? ???? ???? ?? ???? ???? ? ???? ??? ???? ???? ?? ?? ?? ?????? ???? ????? ?

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| Aug 27, 2015

???? ???? ??? ????? ???? ??? ? very well written.

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| Aug 27, 2015

Nice article!

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| Oct 27, 2015

Very informative ..Thanks

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| May 22, 2017

hello my name is shubhangi and I liked your talk bcuse my daughter is also eating day by day much first her weight can't go forward of 50-56 but now she is 60-68 kg can you suggest me some simple tips of getting weight lose by homemade methods which can be instant

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| Sep 01, 2021

Good day! I just want to give you a huge thumbs up for the great information you have got right here on this blog.

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