Following the move by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to frame regulations on a safe and healthy diet for school children, the State Food Safety department is now working to initiate certification of canteens in schools and colleges with the tag ‘Eat Right’ to ensure that pre-packaged food items are not sold.
“We are working on the guidelines to restrict pre-processed and packaged food in collaboration with the School Education Department. We will certify the canteens and eateries as ‘Eat Right’ after checking if they are adhering to the regulations. Various steps are being taken to ensure that ‘Eat Right’ is implemented effectively,” said Vanaja Raj, additional commissioner of the Food Safety Department.
The consumption of junk food and packaged food is likely to increase the chances for chronic diseases.
“In a recent survey by Madras Diabetes Research Foundation among school children in Chennai, it was found that 30 per cent of private school children were obese, while 8-10 per cent of government school students were obese. This is mainly due to the intake of high-calorie food and sweetened beverages coupled with lack of participation in sports and games. To prevent the incidence of these chronic diseases, banning of junk food and availability of nutritious food is a welcome move,” said Dr V Mohan from Madras Diabetes Research Foundation.
Doctors also welcomed the Eat Right campaign and said that a balanced diet gives good appetite. “Concentration and focus on studies will improve. Fatty junk food increases lethargy and causes obesity. Obesity is a disease that starts at a young age and becomes a forerunner for most of the diseases in adolescence,” said Dr T K Neelamekam, head of surgery, Gastro and Minimal Access Surgery at Fortis Malar Hospital.