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


    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

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Noor Ahmad says he arrived in Delhi two years ago with his ‘mama’ (uncle) who lives nearby, in Darya Ganj.

    Delhiwale: Portrait of a childhood

    Noor Ahmad is just 14. More astonishing is the fact that despite being so young, he lives far from his family. Noor Ahmad explains that “when one doesn't have much money at home, then one has to go to distant places to earn money”. At night, he eats out in an eatery. While discussing his inability to attend school, Noor Ahmad remarks that he is not able to read English.

  • The allegations are of allegedly making appointments at Haryana State Warehousing Corporation in an illegal and arbitrary manner when senior Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka served as its MD. (File photo)

    Khemka approaches HC seeking quashing of FIR

    Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka has approached the Punjab and Haryana high court seeking quashing of an FIR registered in Panchkula under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Senior advocate RS Cheema is likely to appear for the IAS officer. The FIR was registered on the complaint of Haryana State Warehousing Corporation, managing director, Sanjeev Verma, on April 26 at Sector-5 police station in Panchkula. Verma, too, was booked on a complaint from Khemka.

  • As per the notification issued by the ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s regional centre in Karnal, the lot of this variety sold between February 25 and April 4 this year, which had the germination capacity above the fixed 80%, has been recalled as there is a possibility of decline in the germination. (AP file photo)

    Karnal: Basmati seeds recalled over poor germination

    Amid complaints of poor germination, ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute's regional centre in Karnal has recalled the seeds of Pusa Basmati 1509 variety of rice it sold to farmers. The quantity of seeds sold during this period was not disclosed, but it is said that it cost 80/kg. Officials have asked the farmers, who had bought the seeds during this period from here, to contact them by May 21 along with the receipt and seeds.

  • National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel clear the charred debris from a burnt floor a day after a fire broke out in a commercial building at Mundka, New Delhi. (HT PHOTO.)

    Delhi Mundka fire: Building, factory owners to be quizzed; DNA samples taken

    The Delhi Police on Monday said that they will seek the custody of the two businessmen who were running an industrial unit in a Mundka building where a devastating fire killed 27 people on Friday in order to question them along with the owner of the building. The Goyal brothers were arrested on Friday, and the owner, Manish Lakra was arrested on Sunday.

  • A case was registered against 11 identified persons under sections 148, 149, 323, 307, 302 and 506 of the IPC. (Image for representational purpose)

    Attack by rival group: Three bodies fished out of Yamunanagar canal

    A day after 10 persons had jumped into Western Yamuna Canal in Buria region of Yamunanagar after allegedly being threatened by a rival group, a team of the national disaster response force (NDRF) on Monday recovered three bodies. The deceased were identified as Nikhil, Sahil and Suleman, while Allaudin and Sunny are still missing, superintendent of police Kamaldeep Goyal said. All of them were between 18 and 22 years of age and residents of Jagadhri.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, May 17, 2022