The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fitness faults in teenage trauma
- Diet disorder and parent distress come tumbling out at star consultant session

He is 16 years old and a keen tennis player, with an eye on the professional court. Although he spends nearly two hours practising every day, his body fat is 31 per cent, when the permissible limit for his age and height of five-feet-four-inches is around 18 per cent. But the teenaged tennis player and his parents are unaware that a bowl of pasta is what he needs after a workout, not pizza.

The 17-year-old girl has anorexia, an eating disorder. After meals, she throws up everything, and is in virtual starvation mode. Despite the disease, she has 27 per cent fat, while the average for her age is around 14 per cent. This is causing irregular menstruation and other complications. She has no idea how to control it, and her parents are clueless about dealing with it.

“They are an educated family, but when I said that an endocrinologist, not a gynaecologist, could help, neither parent knew what I was talking about. She was thin, but the fat, caused by anorexia, covers her internal organs,” said fitness expert Dilip Heble, at a counselling workshop on fitness for teens, at Add Life on Thursday.

These were two of around 10 families who went to see the man from Mumbai with star clients like Yukta Mookhey, Urmila Matondkar and Sanjay Kapoor. Heble has been coming to Calcutta every six weeks, for regular sessions on fitness. This time, it’s a four-day workshop on fighting obesity among teenagers at the Camac Street fitness centre. And the facts about fitness faults did all the talking.

“A 16-year-old was suffering from severe depression. She didn’t do well in her Class X exams, and is now under medication to help her deal with it. Her weight is 80 kg, and she has 30 per cent fat composition. She barely spoke. It was pathetic,” said Heble. There was more. A 17-year-old, whose inability to concentrate and disturbed sleep was caused by the poor nutrition from his daily diet of no breakfast, two rotis for lunch and dal and rice for dinner. A 13-year-old, whose pain in the shins was caused by “growth pangs” — the growing bones being obstructed by muscles that couldn’t stretch due to lack of strenuous activity.

“Exercise can’t solve all problems, but it can treat the source to a large extent. Although there is still a lot of ignorance, things are changing, because all those who came to see me wanted to lose body fat; no one just wanted a ‘better figure’. So, health was uppermost on their minds, not simply looking good,” stressed Heble.

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