Thu, 28 May, 2020

Out of sight, out of mind?

08th November 2019, 02:32 Hrs

Food regulator FSSAI has proposed a complete ban on the sale and advertising of junk foods and soft drinks in school canteens and within a radius of 50 metres of a school. The idea also proposes that schools take many additional measures to ensure good health of students in school campus. However, what impact will this new idea have upon implementation is a matter of debate. 

What is junk food

Ideally, junk foods are defined as processed foods with negligible nutrient value and are often high in salt, sugar and fat. Junk foods are processed foods consisting of high calories, but that is considered only as a broad umbrella. These foods are prepared in a way that they look appealing and are enjoyable so you are chemically programmed to ask for more.

How junk food affects health

Increased risk of obesity

The most obvious difference you’d register would be the enormous uptick in (largely empty) calories you’d consume per meal.The high calorie intake can lead to obesity, which puts you at risk for developing chronic diseases. What’s more, such diseases develop over the course of many years, so it is wise to keep control on fast food when you are young. 

Lack of nutrients

The high calories in fast food are accompanied by low nutritional content. Too much of that, and your body will begin to lack the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly. Your body is temporarily full with empty foods that don’t provide nourishment, so even though you may have eaten a lot of calories, you won’t be satisfied for long.

Increased risk of heart disease

Fats commonly found in fast food are made up of saturated fatty acids. Those are fats that are solid at room temperature, often derived from animals and some plant oils. You’ll find it abundant in, say, a cheeseburger. These fats can raise your blood cholesterol levels, which leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Negative impact on brain

Fast foods like bacon burgers, some fried foods, and milkshakes are often high in saturated fats. “It’s been long established that saturated fats can negatively impact the heart, but there’s also research that suggests high saturated fat intake may negatively impact brain function and memory,

Hike in blood sugar

Eating high-carb fast food increases your blood sugar. As you consume white-flour-based foods—such as the bun from a burger, or French fries with your sandwich—your body takes in a large amount of white sugar. “Frequent consumption of these foods may lead to diseases such as obesity—which the American Medical Association has indicated is a clinical diagnosis—and diabetes

Kids do have a lot of attractions of junk food. And when parents as well as teachers do not allow them to eat it, they sometimes eat it covertly. Absence of outlets that sell such food will resolve this problem to a great extent. It is indeed a welcome step.   

— Aswini Bakhle, 

teacher, GVM’s Primary School, Ponda

Truth be told, it is difficult to completely avoid fast food from today’s young generation. We must however bring it under strict control. Personally, I do not think having fast food centres around schools makes much difference. At our school, we do not let the students go out of school premises during school hours, and we insist that they bring tiffins from home rather than eating outside food. It all depends upon the school and parents. These two should create awareness among the kids about the ill effects of fast food.

— Anant Agni, headmaster, Ravindra Kelekar Dyan Mandir, Margao

Some not so healthy Indian foods
When we speak of fast food, we generally think of pizza or burger and other Western items. However, a number of Indian snacks too could endanger our health if consumed in excess. 
-Medu Wada
-Potato chips
-Paneer Kathi rolls
-Aloo puri

Banning the sale of junk foods around a school is certainly a good idea. It will prevent the students from eating such foods at least during the school time. Speaking of the instances where parents themselves give junk foods to kids in tiffins, schools do check tiffins of kids regularly and advise students as well as parents on the matter. I believe this is a small step that ensures big positive changes if taken. 
—Sandra Da Cunha, 
teacher, Perpetual Succor, Navelim 

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