Mumbai

Junk food ban is not enough: schools

Easy eats: The government aims to solve health issues.

Easy eats: The government aims to solve health issues.  

Menus can change, but the big issue is transforming children’s eating habits

On Monday, the Maharashtra government issued a resolution instructing schools to stop serving junk food in their canteens, to stem health problems and aid learning. Foods banned: those high in fats, salt and sugar (HFSS): soft drinks, sweets, pastries, pizzas, and burgers. Approved foods include rajma, vegetables, daals, wheat rotis, vegetable pulav, and idlis.

Many schools have banned junk food, but kids still bring unhealthy snacks in their tiffin boxes, says Rebecca Shinde, principal of CBM High School, Mumbai. “I am strict, but parents fight with me, asking why children should not be allowed to eat food from home,” she says. “We are not an affluent enough school to have a canteen, so there is a limit to how much we can control what children bring.”

Meera Isaacs, principal at Cathedral and John Connon School, says, “As students get to higher classes, they do not want to eat healthy food. Fruits and milk have no takers; channa, kaathi rolls, pizza, chips and sandwiches have better appeal. We will have to change these eating patterns. I wonder how much luck we will have.”

“Our canteen is good,” said Ujwala Zare, principal of Gopalji Hemraj High School. “It has no problem in terms of cleanliness, but it still depends on how much children will show interest in government-approved food.”

Destroy vitamins

Bina Chheda, clinical dietician at Cumbala Hill Hospital, says, “Colas bind together B-complex vitamins; ingredients added for colour or to make a dish cook faster also destroy B-complex vitamins.” She says that ideal meals for children involve carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and protein.

“Foods like biscuits are high on glucose and generate short-term energy spikes but do not give any sustenance” says Krushmi Chheda, sports nutritionist. “During puberty, bones and muscular growth are hampered. Lower attention spans and lethargy become common.” She says a good example of a balanced meal is rajma chawal: proteins, carbohydrates, essential fats, and fibre.”

“Limiting access to junk food is good,” admits Pranav Vaidyanathan, a student at Dhirubai Ambani High School. “Because given the choice of junk food and a healthy lunch, I don’t know how many of us would be able to control ourselves.”

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 5:58:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/junk-food-ban-is-not-enough-schools/article18418232.ece

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