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Childhood Obesity : An Ayurvedic Approach to Its Management

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Childhood Obesity : An Ayurvedic Approach to Its Management

4 min read


Environmental factors, lifestyle preferences, and cultural environment play major roles in increasing childhood obesity worldwide. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At August 18, 2014
Reviewed AtMarch 5, 2024

What Is Obesity?

Obesity occurs due to the accumulation of excess fat in the body. It is usually caused due to excessive food intake, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility. Deposition of excess fat in the body can lead to many harmful effects on health, reduced life expectancy, and increased health problems. A body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese. During this pandemic, children have been forced to stay indoors. Other factors like limited playing and online classes also have a major impact on obesity in children.

Which Individuals Are More Susceptible to Developing Childhood Obesity?

  • Babies born to mothers with diabetes, obesity, or a history of smoking during pregnancy are at higher risk for childhood obesity.

  • Infants exhibiting elevated body weight.

  • Children experiencing a physical disability.

  • Children receiving therapy for epilepsy.

  • Children undergoing glucocorticoid treatment.

  • Children diagnosed with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

  • Children experiencing psychological issues.

  • Individuals who have survived cancer.

  • Teenagers diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus.

  • Children with a familial predisposition to obesity.

When Is a Child Thought to Be Obese?

A child is thought to be obese when his or her body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person's weight by the square of the person's height, exceeds 30 Kg/m2. By following the guidelines based on Ayurvedic fundamentals, parents can effectively manage their child's obesity.

Obesity in Ayurveda:

In Ayurveda, obesity has been elaborately described by using the term Atisthaulya. Childhood obesity without any organic cause is being dealt with here. It is considered one of the diseases due to the consumption of excessive calories and is referred to as Santarpanottha Vikaras in Ayurveda. Obesity is described in Ayurveda as:

  1. Excessive accumulation of Meda (fat/adipose tissue).

  2. Mamsa (flesh/muscle tissue) leads to flabbiness of the hips, abdomen, and thigh flabbiness.

What Are the Causes of Obesity in Children?

A few causes of obesity include:

  • Daytime sleeping.

  • Overeating and irregular food habits.

  • Children have more energy-dense foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates.

  • Lack of physical activities due to a sedentary lifestyle.

  • Endocrine disorders, genetics, medical reasons, or psychiatric illness.

What Can Be the Symptoms of Obesity in Children?

  • Breathlessness even on little exertion or physical activity.

  • Excessive hunger.

  • Excessive sleep.

  • Lack of interest in doing work.

  • Profuse sweating with foul body odor.

  • Feeling tired.

Ayurvedic Management of Childhood Obesity:

Diet Regimen (Ahara):

An unhealthy diet can result in the deposition of fatty tissue in the body, leading to weight gain and obesity.

  • Children should avoid eating oily and deep-fried foods like noodles, pizza, hamburgers, hot dog buns, french fries, and pasta.

  • Parents should not give sugar-sweetened foods like chocolate, sweets, or cold drinks (sodas).

Method of Dieting to Avoid Childhood Obesity:

A morning meal (breakfast) for children should always contain whole grains, fruits, and protein. Skipping meals does not promote weight loss. Little water (half a glass) should be taken before the meal. Cold water and cold drinks should not be taken along with the meal (especially just after the meal). More fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet.

  • Fruits: Amalaki (Indian gooseberry), Bilva (Bael fruit), Bibhitaki (Beleric Myrobalan), Haritaki (Myrobalan), and Jambu (Syzygium cumin).

  • Vegetables: Patol (pointed gourd), Trapusha (cucumber), Granjanak (carrot), Shigru (drumstick), Vartaka (brinjal).

If the child hesitates to eat these fruits and vegetables, then make them more palatable by serving them in the form of fruit mix or vegetable confections.

Liquid Intake (Anupana):

Children should be given lukewarm water in the winter season and room-temperature water (not cold) in the summer season. Other liquids that help reduce childhood obesity are honey, warm water, buttermilk, and Tila taila (sesame oil).

Physical Activity (Vyayama):

Children should be encouraged to do physical activity, such as at least 60 minutes of fitness every day in the form of sports, morning walks, or cycling.

Limit Screen Time:

Switch off the television, computer, video game, etc., after a maximum of two hours a day. This will provide time for more physical activity for the child.

Sleep (Nidra):

Excessive sleeping or a nap after lunch has a major impact on obesity, which should be avoided.

Psychotherapy (Satvavajaya Chikitsa):

  • Parent's Role: Parents should set a good example for children by choosing a healthy diet and doing ample exercise.

  • Emotional Support to the Child: Children need a lot of encouragement to be active. Children should be praised for making small changes and efforts for weight loss, not results. This, in turn, will encourage them to perform more.


As daytime sleep can increase, Kapha dosha also imbalances Agni, which in turn increases body fat; time sleep or excessive sleep should be avoided.

Shamana (Palliative) Treatment:

  • Fasting (Langhan).

  • Oral use of digestives to increase fat metabolism (Ama pachan).

  • Dry medicated powder massage (Ruksha Udwartan).

  • Heavy and non-nourishing diets or items like honey, salad, etc., are advised.

  • Physical exercises and mental work are recommended.

Samshodhana Chikitsa (Purificatory Procedures):

  • Panchakarma.

  • Therapeutic emesis (Vaman).

  • Virechan - Therapeutic purgation cleanses the body by removing toxins from the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and gallbladder.

  • Lekhan Vasti - Medicated enemas are advised to manage Sthaulya (obesity).

  • Single Drugs: Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Vidanga, Sunthi, Musta, Amla, Vaca, Daruharidra, Guggulu, etc.

  • Compound Formulations: Trikatu, Navak Guggulu, Triphala Guggulu, Vidangadi Churna, Takrarishta, Navayasa lauha, Arogya Vardhini Vati, etc.


Ayurvedic medicines are very effective in natural weight reduction and the above regimen. However, these medications must be taken in appropriate doses according to body weight and under medical supervision. Self-medication should strictly be avoided.

How to Prevent Obesity in Children?

Lifestyle modifications include the following:

  • Eating a healthy diet.

  • Adopting an active lifestyle, like mild to moderate exercise according to individual capacity.

  • A regular habit of morning walks for at least 30 minutes.

  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle.

  • Avoid excessive sleep.

  • Avoid watching television or any electronic gadgets while having food.


Obesity is a common disease of all age groups seen among people of high socioeconomic status, especially in urban communities; therefore, WHO (World Health Organization) has declared it a global epidemic. Getting obese or overweight is also one of the dangerous consequences observed in children and teens during the pandemic. The primary reasons for this are their food habits, lack of exercise, and excessive screen time. When these have been well balanced with diet alterations, regular exercise, and reduced screen time, obesity can be reduced in children.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Primary Reason Behind Childhood Obesity?

Factors that contribute to childhood obesity are the following mentioned below.
- Overeating.
- Inconsistent eating patterns.
- Daytime sleeping.
- Children who consume more calorie-dense, high-fat, and carbohydrate diets.
- Kids who lack the habit of daily exercise.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Psychiatric illness.
- Genetics, medical conditions, or endocrine abnormalities.


What Are the Five Negative Effects of Childhood Obesity?

Childhood obesity can cause the following symptoms-
- Breathing difficulties even with minimal effort or vigorous exercise.
- Overeating and sleeping.
- Lack of motivation and interest in work.
- Excessive sweating and unpleasant body odor.
- Tiredness.


Are Parents to Blame for Their Child's Obesity?

A woman may be responsible for her child's weight as early as the womb. When parents do not pay enough attention to what they feed their children, it leads to childhood obesity. Many parents do not offer nutritious snacks to their children, and many families do not consume enough home-cooked meals. Parents must start educating themselves on healthy eating and making better decisions for themselves and their kids.


How Can Childhood Obesity Be Combated?

Ayurvedic management of childhood obesity includes-
- Diet Regimen (Ahara): Eating healthy food that contains home-cooked
food, fruits, and vegetables.
- Liquid Intake (Anupana): The child should consume a sufficient amount
of water, milk, honey, buttermilk, or sesame oil.
- Physical Activity (Vyayama): Children must have a daily exercise routine.
Parents must limit their daily screen time.
- Sleep (Nidra): Children must have sufficient sleep. Oversleeping must be
- Psychotherapy (Satvavajaya Chikitsa): It includes emotional support and
positive reinforcement from parents.
- Divaswapna: Avoiding daytime sleeping.
- Shamana: It is the palliative treatment.
- Samshodhana Chikitsa: It includes various purificatory procedures.


Can a Person Reverse Childhood Obesity?

Healthy diet and exercise habits can help people lose weight. However, a young person does not necessarily have to stay obese throughout their entire life just because they were overweight as kids. Instead, people can learn healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating well and exercising often.


Is Obesity Genetically Inherited?

Depending on their family history and ethnicity, most people have a genetic tendency to obesity. Obesity often requires dietary, behavioral, or other environmental modification before it can be caused by genetic predisposition alone.


How Does Exercise Help Prevent Childhood Obesity?

Physical activity (vyayama)- It is essential to encourage kids to engage in physical activity through sports, daily morning walks, or cycling for 60 minutes. After a maximum of two hours daily, the youngster will have more time to exercise. In addition, exercise can boost calorie expenditure and metabolism.


What Foods Contribute to Obesity?

Children who consume more processed, fried, and fatty foods that are heavy in carbohydrates and fats and are energy-dense tend to get overweight. Overeating and inconsistent eating patterns are the other factors. Therefore, it is essential to encourage kids to eat wholesome and home-cooked meals.


What Makes My Very Active Child Overweight?

A child may be active as they do not have any ailment, but most pediatric obesity cases are due to excessive eating and insufficient exercise. To support a child's healthy growth and development, they must eat adequate food. However, weight gain may occur if they consume more calories each day than they burn.


When Do I Need to Be Concerned About the Child's Weight?

A BMI (body mass index) of more than 25 is considered overweight, and a BMI of more than 30 is considered obese. The term Atisthaulya has been used in Ayurveda to describe obesity. It is known as Santarpanottha Vikaras in Ayurveda and is regarded as one of the disorders occurring due to calorie excess.
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Dr. Omendra Pal Singh
Dr. Omendra Pal Singh

Ayurveda Specialist


physical activitychildhood obesity
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