Food for thought
In a much-needed enforcement, Food and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) proposed ban on advertisements of unhealthy food within 50m radius of schools and the food regulator organisation came up with this proposal as part of its objective to ensure safe and wholesome food for children. The importance of healthy eating cannot be emphasised enough in this day and age of increasing health issues in children owing to numerous factors. While a major portion of India's children suffer from malnutrition, most of whom come from the lowest and poorest strata of the society, childhood obesity is the bane of the better off. The quantum of junk food that is now available to children is detrimental to the health of children in several ways—the consumption of excess salt and sugar not only does great harm to the body but also results in hampering the performance of a child as lack of adequate exercise and too much consumption of preservatives and other chemical laden food causes interference in the natural growth process of a child and the development of their cognitive capacities. FSSAI has been very correct in its initiative to keep children from developing dependency on junk food and has sought comments from stakeholders within 30 days on its draft regulations titled 'Food Safety and Standards (Safe Food and healthy diets for School Children) Regulations, 2019'. The precise order is that "Foods which are referred to as foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) cannot be sold to school children in school canteens or mess premises or hostel kitchens or within 50 meters of the school campus".
Further, food business operators (FBOs) manufacturing HFSS food products would be barred from advertising such foods in school premises or around it. Enforcing the need for a healthy diet for children will not only benefit them for their health and well being but also encourage mindfulness with respect to food among children and others. Understanding that natural food is the best food is the right way forward. If only schools go a step further and train children to grow food as both a hobby and a necessary life skill, the reality of food in this country, and of food security and nutrition, will soon change for good.