Junk it: UGC wants college canteens to take fast food off the menu

While the circular does not define ‘junk food’, circulars by other boards of education, including Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations refers to junk food as “items that are high on calories, but low on nutrients”.
Students said the move to promote healthy eating will not succeed as they would just head out for off-campus outlets.(HT Photo)
Students said the move to promote healthy eating will not succeed as they would just head out for off-campus outlets.(HT Photo)
Updated on Nov 11, 2016 11:33 AM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times | By, Mumbai

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked colleges to stop serving junk food in their canteens.

“Banning junk food in colleges will set new standards for health food and make the students live better, learn better and also reduce the obesity levels in young learners, thus preventing lifestyle diseases which have a direct link with excessive weight,” states the circular issued on Thursday evening and which is available on www.ugc.ac.in.

The UGC is a statutory body to coordinate, determine and maintain the standards of higher education. While the circulars released by UGC are not binding, affiliated universities and colleges are expected to follow the prescribed rules.

The circular even suggests ways the institutes can implement the order.

While the circular does not define ‘junk food’, circulars by other boards of education, including the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination, refer to junk food as “items that are high on calories, but low on nutrients”.

For starters, colleges have been asked to display information on markers such as body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio, etc. Orientation programmes have been recommended for staff as well as students so as to put across the point to the youth as soon as possible. Students too have been asked to form clusters among themselves and counsel each other about proper nutrition, exercise as well as other healthy habits.

Some students, however, found this circular amusing.

“In this day and age, almost everyone is aware of the perils of consuming junk food, especially after being told about all through school. We are not school kids anymore to follow such strict rules,” said Ankita Parekh, a student from Bandra’s RD National College.

“The more the restrictions, the higher the chances that we’ll do the exact opposite. If we don’t find our food in the canteen, students will opt for smaller joints outside the college which will not even be clean. At least our canteen serves clean food,” said Sachit Ramesh, a student of Mithibai College, Vile Parle.

While colleges have given a thumbs-up to the initiative, many thought banning junk food will not help much. “Creating awareness about healthy eating is something all colleges can easily adopt, and this can help students understand the problem. Unless students practice self-restraint , simply banning something will not help the cause,” said Vijay Joshi, principal of K J Somaiya College, Vidya Vihar.

What colleges will have to do

Implement measures to sensitise students on ill effects of junk food

Universities can serve as important data sources on students’ health. Information on markers like body mass index (BMI)/percentage of body weight/waist hip ratio, etc can help create awareness among students towards their health. BMI is the approximate measure of whether an individual is overweight or underweight, calculated by dividing their weight in kilograms by the square of their height in metres

Conduct orientation programs for faculty and staff on health issues

Create wellness clusters under the Students Welfare Department to counsel students about proper nutrition, proper exercise and healthy habits. These wellness clusters can also provide psychological support to the students to prevent and reduce the incidence of obesity in young students

Similar incidents

In January this year, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) directed all affiliated schools to take junk food off their canteen menu. Schools were also asked to inspect lunch boxes of students, create awareness about nutritious food and regularly monitor students’ health. The circular was released following a report by the Ministry of Women and Child Development addressing consumption of foods High in Fat, Salt and Sugar (HFSS) and promotion of healthy snacks in schools

In May 2012, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had directed all schools to ban junk food and carbonated drinks, calling them “rich in calories but deficient in vital nutrients”. The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations in May 2012 and all schools were asked to implement this ban at the earliest

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Shreya Bhandary is a Special Correspondent covering higher education for Hindustan Times, Mumbai. Her work revolves around finding loopholes in the current education system and highlighting the good and the bad in higher education institutes in and around Mumbai.

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • A family on a motor bike during rains. 

    Karnataka rain: Amid red alert, holiday for schools, colleges in these districts

    Owing to continuous rain, educational institutions in several parts of Karnataka will remain shut on Thursday. Top officials in the 4 districts of Karnataka - namely Udupi, Kodagu, Hassan and Uttara Kannada -- have declared holiday for Anganwadi schools and colleges amid the 'red alert' issued by the weather department. The Indian Meteorological Department has predicted extremely heavy rain, ranging above 204.5 mm for these 4 cities.

  • Karnataka Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu B Chavan.

    ‘Do not sacrifice cattle for Bakrid festival,’ says Karnataka Minister

    Karnataka Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu B Chavan appealed to people not to sacrifice cattle for the Bakrid festival while warning of stern action against the offenders. The Minister emphasised the Cow Slaughter Prohibition Act has already been in force in Karnataka. Generally, during the Bakrid festival, there is a tradition of sacrifice, for which livestock such as cow, ox, calf and camels are also used, said Chavan.

  • Chandigarh administrator Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday gave in-principle approval for a synthetic running track at Sukhna Lake. (HT PHOTO )

    Synthetic running track on Sukhna Lake gets Chandigarh administrator’s nod

    Chandigarh Chandigarh administrator Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday gave in-principle approval for a synthetic running track at Sukhna Lake. UT adviser Dharam Pal, said, “The Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee had earlier given its go-ahead for the proposal. Next, the detailed plan and cost estimates will be prepared; and then, tenders will be floated for the project.” A UT official said the proposed track is part of the administration's efforts to give Sukhna Lake a major facelift.

  • The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has approved two over-bridges, which are likely to reduce travel time between Kalka and Zirakpur and alleviate traffic jams on the stretch by next year. (HT PHOTo)

    Soon, 2 over-bridges to cut travel time between Kalka, Zirakpur

    The National Highway Authority of India has approved two over-bridges, which are likely to reduce travel time between Kalka and Zirakpur and alleviate traffic jams on the stretch by next year. NHAI has already floated tenders for the 60-m wide over-bridges, which will be constructed at a cost of ₹50 crore. It has invited bids for the “construction and site improvement of the four-lane national highway (NH-22) on the Zirakpur-Parwanoo junction.”

  • Fifteen students had a narrow escape after their school bus skidded into a waterlogged open drain in Daulat Singhwala village in Phabat area of Zirakpur. (HT Photo)

    Close shave for 15 students as bus skids into waterlogged ditch in Zirakpur

    Fifteen students had a narrow escape after their school bus skidded into a waterlogged open drain in Daulat Singhwala village in Phabat area of Zirakpur. The bus, which was ferrying students of Blue Bird High School, Sector 16, Panchkula, was making way for another school bus when it skidded into the overflowing drain. The bus tilted in the drain, but passersby and parents were able to rescue the children through the driver's window.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, July 07, 2022