School and college canteens will be able to replace junk food with healthy alternatives in the next academic year, thanks to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The BMC plans to offer educational institutions the services of dieticians to create healthier menus for their canteens. The plan to introduce fresh fruits, soups and steamed snacks is a reaction to worries over increasing obesity in children, which makes them susceptible to diabetes and hypertension, said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner, BMC.
“Lifestyle diseases are no more restricted to the elderly. We are seeing a lot of young people with such diseases. Hence, corrective steps, such as introduction of dietary changes in canteens, are needed,” said Mhaiskar.
Doctors say that in 50% of adult diabetes cases, complications from the disease can be avoided by lifestyle changes alone. These changes can help reduce the chances of multi-organ damage as a result of the disease.
The Indian Dietetic Association (IDA), which has already helped many schools and colleges shift towards healthy canteen food, said that educational institutions are open to the idea of creating healthier canteen menus. “We also teach parents to cook healthy food ,” said Salomi Benjamin, past president of IDA and a dietician attached to Nair Hospital.
However, it is not clear what the BMC will do with institutes that do not take part in the initiative. “We will see what to do with institutions which do not agree with the idea,” said Mhaiskar.