Junk the junk food

Healthy eating
Last Updated 20 March 2014, 14:13 IST

In a bid to take the ‘junk’ out of the lives of children across the nation, the Centre is all set to ban the sale of junk food in school canteens and around school premises across the country soon.

The Centre recently submitted a final guideline to the Delhi High Court on regulating the sale of junk food and aerated drinks in and around schools. It says that they want to restrict the availability of junk food items such chips, fries, colas, chocolates, etc. inside schools and up to within 50 metre of their boundaries.

It is a common sight in schools to see children enjoying their burgers, samosas and chips, but what they don’t realise is the harm they are causing to their bodies. Junk food can lead to obesity, diabetes and hypertension among children.

According to Dr Himanshi Kashyap, a paediatrician at the Rockland Hospital, “Although many schools have started their weekly plans and have designed the menus of their children, others should also start following this soon. As per the menu, parents have to prepare what is there on the menu, which consists of all kinds of necessary nutrition that is good for kids. Schools should also discourage binge eating among students and develop a canteen policy to provide nutritious, wholesome food in schools.”

A balanced diet is very important for children and junk food is high in calories and fats. A child on an average needs 50-60 per cent carbohydrates, 20 per cent fats and 20 per cent proteins. Hence, a balanced diet should have everything –from pulses to veggies to fruits. Only then will a child get all the necessary nutritions.

Dr Himanshi says, “If a child craves for a pizza or a burger, one can even make them at home. Instead of ordering one, which has so much of cheese and maida, one can make them at home with less cheese and lots of veggies as toppings. For snacks, chiwda is also a great option, where one can add a lot of peanuts, which are a great source of protein.”

The problem of obesity among children is on the rise and reckless dietary habit is the main reason. Junk food items such as burgers, pizzas, chips, fries, samosas, biscuits etc. sold rampantly in school and college canteens contain high amounts of salt, sugar and saturated fat rather than nutrition which is unhealthy for children, say experts.

Sonia Bajaj, a fitness coach and nutritionist, says, “Junk food is all about problems. Today we have working mothers who do not have the time to pack tiffins and moreover children also have money to spend. Hence, their love for pizzas and burgers. Junk food are addictive and the more you eat, the more your body demands it which then leads to obesity.

It also makes a person lazy and lessens the pace of functioning of the brain. Junk food can lead to skin issues, hypertension, Type II diabetes, joint pains and artery blockage due to fat accumulation and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOD). If we include more veggies/salads, we can reduce the chances of getting such diseases.”

A concerned mother, Sunita Shukla, whose child is in Class V, said, “Although, I give my son tiffin everyday with all healthy stuff, but I am not sure whether he eats it or not. He is really fond of burger and I am sure he ends up eating it in school and distributes the tiffin among his friends. But now I hope with this decision, he might be compelled to eat home cooked food in school.”

(Published 20 March 2014, 14:13 IST)

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