THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 08 November 2019 (Junking fast food: On norms against food rich in fat, sugar and salt (The Hindu))

Junking fast food: On norms against food rich in fat, sugar and salt (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims level: Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
Mains level: Challenges ahead behind banning junk food inside the school premises

Context

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has notified a draft regulation aimed at prohibiting the sale and advertisement of food rich in fat, sugar and salt to schoolchildren inside the school premises and within 50 m around it.
  • The 2015 order from the Delhi High Court directing the central agency to frame norms to promote healthy diets in schools.

Major objectives behind banning

  • Besides prohibiting the sale of junk food, the FSSAI requires schools to simultaneously encourage and promote a safe and balanced diet.
  • To shield the children from consuming unhealthy food items and snacks, the FSSAI prohibits food companies that manufacture such items from advertising or offering for free such foods in school premises and within 50 m of the campus.
  • To thwart food companies from luring children to consume foods rich in fat, sugar and salt, the companies are prohibited from using their logos, brand names and product names on books and other educational materials, as well as on school property such as buildings, buses, and athletic fields.
  • As a general guidance to provide wholesome food, the agency recommends the use of a combination of whole grains, milk, eggs, and millets; it also listed a set of general guidelines for selection of food products that can be offered in schools.

Malnutrition accounted

  • Over seven lakh (68%) deaths in children under the age of five years in 2017 in India, there is rising obesity in schoolchildren in many States.
  • According to a July 2017 study, India, with 14.4 million, had the second most number of obese children among 195 countries.
  • A recent study found 23 States to have child overweight prevalence more than the national average, with six States having a prevalence of over 20%.
  • Several studies have shown how a western diet affects the composition and diversity of gut bacteria and sets the stage for many metabolic diseases.
  • Hence, any attempt to reduce and discourage the intake of unhealthy foods, which is a major cause of unhealthy weight gain in children, should be welcomed.

Challenges behind enforcement

  • This will particularly in preventing the sale and promotion of unhealthy food near schools.
  • Despite the sale and advertisement of tobacco products within 100 yards of a school being prohibited, violation is more the norm than the exception.
  • Shops that sell tobacco products very often also sell many of the packaged unhealthy foods that the FSSAI now wants to ban.
  • The onus of inculcating healthy eating habits also starts at home.
  • Besides taking steps to reduce the intake of unhealthy food, both schools and parents should ensure children get adequate physical activity, which is increasingly being neglected for various reasons.

Conclusion

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) President Ram Nath Kovind has recently launched endowment fund of which of the following Institutions?
A. IIT Delhi
B. JNU
C. IIT Kanpur
D. NIT Surat

Answer: A
Mains Questions:

Q.1) Enforcement is the key in preventing school children from accessing unhealthy food. In this regard what are the major challenges for the government behind prohibition of junk foods? What are the major objectives behind such banning?


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