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Delhi govt wants schools to ban fatty food in canteens

A circular issued by the Delhi government directs schools to sensitise students and parents to the ill-effects of food high in fat, sugar and salt.

delhi Updated: Mar 02, 2016 10:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Delhi schools,canteen,food
A government-appointed committee has held that besides causing physical problems such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes, junk food is also the reason behind psychological issues such as low-esteem in children.(File photo)

The Arvind Kejriwal government has asked schools across the national capital to consider banning the sale of food items that are high in fat, sugar and salt in their canteens. They were also asked to sensitise students to their ill-effects on physical and mental health.

“The heads of all government and private schools are directed to sensitise students and parents to the ill-effects of food high in fat, sugar and salt through the morning assembly, teacher interactive periods and parent-teacher meetings,” said a circular issued by the directorate of education to the schools.

“The schools may consider banning the sale of such foods from the school canteen, and ensure that it sells fresh and healthy foods that are low in fat,” it added. Some of the healthy food items and beverages suggested in the circular were veg sandwiches, fruits, paneer cutlets, khandvi, poha, lassi, jaljeera and low-fat milk shakes.

The Delhi government’s circular said students could be sensitised by “maintaining a notice board for creating awareness; organising drawing, painting, slogan writing activities and debates in a class-wise manner with special emphasis on lower classes; and addressing the issue in the morning assembly (at least) once a month”.

Read more: Panel recommends banning 12 food items from school canteen

Ensuring healthy eating in Delhi schools has been under consideration for over half a decade now, ever since the Uday Foundation, an NGO, filed a PIL in the Delhi high court in 2010 to seek a complete ban on the sale of junk food in and around school premises.

Subsequently, in March last year, the high court directed the government to restrict the sale of ‘fatty food’ and sugary beverages in schools, and asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to ensure that wholesome and nutritious food is made available to students.

Five months later, a panel set up by the ministry of women & child development backed the idea of banning the sale of junk of food in these zones. Highlighting the health risks posed by junk food such as burgers, pizzas and samosas, it said in a report: “All food items falling in the definition of junk food should be banned in school canteens. Shops and restaurants selling food within 200 metres of a school should not be permitted to sell these food items to children in school uniforms…”

The panel claimed that besides causing obesity and related issues such as diabetes and hypertension in children, regular consumption of junk food also brings about psychological and behavioural problems such as binge-eating and low self-esteem.

First Published: Mar 02, 2016 09:29 IST