Schools have welcomed the Centre’s decision to ban junk food in schools and colleges.
In December last year, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had written a letter to human resource development minister Kapil Sibal requesting schools to ban junk food and carbonated drinks. A similar letter and a circular was issued by the Union health minister in 2007.
However, the state education board schools say they have not yet received a circular from the government banning junk food in schools.
City principals said they might have to rope in nutritionists to chart out a healthy diet to children. “Parents, teachers, and the education department will have to work together to come up with a policy to avoid junk food for proper implementation. We will have to conduct awareness programmes with both parents and students on the ill-effects of junk food,” said Najma Kazi, principal of Anjuman-I-Islam's Saif Tyabji Girls' High School in Byculla.
Doctors and physicians say that unhealthy lifestyle, easy availability of junk food, reduction of physical activities among children and peer pressure are behind high intake of junk food.
However, a few schools have been following a zero junk food policy even before the Centre’s decision. In November last year, the human resources development ministry had sent a circular to Kendriya Vidyalaya schools in the country to avoid keeping junk food items in their canteens.
“Most Kendriya Vidyalaya schools do not have canteens and the schools that serve canteen food have to avoid junk food,” said PRL Gupta, assistant commissioner, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghathan, Mumbai. “Children have to bring lunch boxes from home and we also inspect them to see the kind of food children get to school,” he said.