Junk foods should be out of school canteens: NGO

November 9th, 2010 - 7:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) Chips, burgers, pizzas, kathi rolls and other junk foods have become the preferred snack for children, and are even sold in school canteens, leading to lifestyle diseases among kids, said an NGO Tuesday stressing the need to set health standards for improving children’s nutrition.

There is need to improve children’s nutrition by setting health standards for snacks and beverages sold in schools, Bhavan Barmi, clinical psychologist, Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre said.

A survey conducted in 15 private and public school canteens of Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) among 10,000 children - on their eating and food desire pattern -found that kids preferred junk food like pizzas, burgers, chowmein, kathi rolls which are heavy in fats, salt, and sugar. Due to this many children develop lifestyle diseases.

“Not just parents but the school management should push school canteens to sell healthy snacks instead of junk foods, as children spend more time in school,” Barmi said.

The survey indicated that children buy food from the canteen at least 3 times a week. Even the food they bring from home is oily.

“Although many prefer home food they are mostly oily items like paranthas or maida-based products. Rice and fruits are found less in their lunch boxes,” Barmi informed.

Half the children surveyed said they eat egg, pulses and nuts only once in a week. Most of the children said they feel extremely tired by the end of the day and can only jog for 15 minutes at a stretch.

“Certain unexplored aspects like the need for school canteen guidelines and the impact of advertisements on kids’ eating habits needs to be debated. Health interventions at school is the need of the hour,” she added.

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