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Government suggests banning junk food in and around school premises

Posted:  Thursday, August 27, 2015

School kids generally love spending their pocket money to buy those chips and drinks sold in and around school premises. Now, a committee formed by the Ministry of Women & Child Development wants to curb this habit. In their new report, they recommend clearly classifying junk foods and banning their sale in school canteens and within 200 metres of a school.

The report also states that shops and restaurants around the school premises should not sell these classified junk foods to children in school uniform. The committee was constituted earlier this year under the chairmanship of Director, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad. It comprises members from different institutions, namely the Health ministry, Indian Council of Medical Research, and Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI).

At present, junk foods have not been defined under the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006. The Union Health Ministry has acknowledged that there are no proposals to define junk food in the pipeline. However, guidelines for providing wholesome, nutritious, safe and hygienic foods to school children in the country have been put in place by the Central Advisory Committee, FSSAI.

The committee established by the Ministry of Women & Child Development reviewed the prevalent practices of junk food regulation in 23 countries in light of the legislative and institutional framework available in India. It has recommended an amendment in the labelling of pre-packed foods; the label must bear the disclaimer "unfit for infants, children, pregnant and lactating mothers or persons with specific ailments”.

All these changes have been proposed keeping in mind the rising incidence of obesity and related issues such as diabetes and hypertension among school children. The committee has also highlighted the consequences of psychological and behavioural dysfunctions such as binge-eating, body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. In this regard, the Delhi High court has been swift enough to ban the sale of junk food in schools. It’s time other centres followed suit to ensure a healthier generation.

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