In view of the increasing incidences of obesity-related diseases among children and adolescents, experts insist inculcating healthy eating habits at young age is the need of the hour. And what better place to start from than school canteens.
In a recent survey, commissioned by NGO Heal Foundation, along with ministry of health and family welfare, 75.5% schoolchildren claimed if given a choice they would prefer healthy food items from school canteens. But for lack of enough options, they have to munch on junk snacks.
According to experts, burger, chips, samosas, patties, momos and colas should be replaced with fresh fruits, eggs, salads, rajma-rice, dal-rice, low- salt soups, yoghurt and vegetables.
“You find children as young as 12-year-olds suffering from lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, owing to their eating and overall bad lifestyle habits. The existing food options in the canteen should be modified to make them more suitable to children’s taste and at the same time more nutritious, along with encouraging them to take part in extra-curricular activities” says Dr SK Wangnoo, senior consultant, Centre for Obesity, Diabetes and Endocrinology, Apollo Hospital.
The survey was carried out in 20 schools in Delhi and NCR region among children belonging to the age group of 6 to 18 years. And nearly a quarter of the students consume food from school canteens at least twice a week, the survey report said.