In the long run or say in coming few months or years the school going kids might miss the mouth savouring dishes served by the school canteens during recess time. Not only this but also they will not be served junk food by the hawkers if they happen to be in their school dresses. This is so because Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi has sent a written request to her Cabinet colleagues HRD minister Smriti Irani and Health Minister J P Nadda seeking a ban on junk food in school canteens and incorporating new food guidelines that define junk food and categorize it on its nutritious value. Soon the day is not far off when in the school canteens and cafeterias, junk food will be banned.
In the letter written to Irani and Nadda, Maneka Gandhi wrote,
“Over the last two decades, over-nutrition and obesity have emerged as a public health problem among school going children in the age group of 6 to 18 years. This is largely the result of lifestyle related factors in terms of reduction in physical activity and non-health food choices. The major contributor of the non-healthy food choices in the younger generation is the easy availability of junk food which essentially is calorie dense high fat fast food.”
Much before Maneka Gandhi, the same initiative was taken by a team of government panel when during a recent survey they came across that the junk food or ‘HFSS’ that is foods high in fat, salt and sugar is being served to the school going students. In the letter received the following guidelines were laid down : No HFSS food products will be sold in the school canteens, within 200 meter radius there should be no private vendor and hawker especially during the school hours, shops and restaurants have been issued the orders that they will not sell proprietary foods to children in school uniform and last but not least, in the school canteens non-standardized proprietary foods which do not have a nutritional value should not be stocked.
She has also urged the Chief Ministers of respective states to lend their helping hand in implementing the ban and making it successful.
If the reports are to be believed, she has also asked the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to adopt the guidelines laid down by working group under Hyderabad’s National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) which suggest the ways and norms to fight with the problem of ‘obesity’.