The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a letter to all the universities asking them to consider withdrawal of carbonated beverages and junk food from college canteens.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a letter to the Vice-Chancellors of all the Universities to consider withdrawal of carbonated beverages and junk food from college canteens on the advice of Ministry of Women and Child Development. This follows a similar letter from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in January this year to all its affiliated schools to ban junk food.
Report of the working group on High fat food consumption
The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) constituted a Working Group which submitted its report on ‘Addressing Consumption of Foods High in Fat, Salt and Sugar (HFSS) and Promotion of Healthy Snacks in Schools of India’. The report comprehensively covered the issue and provided directions on how to control the endemic problem of consumption of junk food available especially in and around schools.
This also follows a Delhi High Court orders in 2015 directing the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to prepare guidelines for making available ‘Wholesome, Nutritious, Safe and Hygienic Food’ to School Children.
CBSE Circular in January 2016
The CBSE in its circular earlier this year had mentioned that consumption of food high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) is associated with many diseases including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, chronic inflammation and hyperinsulinemia with a risk of cardiovascular diseases in later life. The circular also mentioned that childhood obesity has been reportedly found to affect the cognitive and physical development of children adversely, causing an irreparable loss to the society.
The CBSE had directed schools to ban any junk food, constitute a school canteen management committee, conduct awareness generation events, promotion of nutritious food among other steps.
It is UGC’s turn now
The UGC has now written to the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities to consider withdrawal of carbonated beverages and junk food from college canteens. While the letter did not explicitly direct the universities to ban such food, it went onto explain that banning junk food in colleges would set new standards for healthy food and make the students live better, and learn better and also reduce the obesity levels in young learners, thus preventing life style diseases which have a direct link with excessive weight.
UGC has requested all the universities to implement various measures to sentitize students on the adverse effects of junk food apart from conducting orientation programs for staff and faculty. The UGC also asked universities to make information on markers like Body Mass Index (BMI) be available to students. It also asked the universities to create wellness clusters. The universities have also been asked to issue relevant instructions to their affiliated colleges.
Featured Image: Junk Food