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Junk food companies targeting kids, says Darade at Safe Food workshop
Tuesday, 10 September, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
Companies marketing junk food - defined by FDA Maharashtra as foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) - are targeting kids, and the result in an increase in the percentage of obesity in the country. This was stated by Pallavi Darade on the last day of the Safe and Nutritious Food workshop, which took place in Nashik recently, and was a part of the Eat Right Maharashtra campaign.

The state FDA and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) urged all the school and colleges in Nashik district in writing to move towards a ban on HFSS foods from the canteens and the inclusion of healthier foods in their menus. It also urged these educational institutions to form a health team and work on modifications in the menus as per the guidelines of FDA.

“We are blindly copying western food habits. Burgers, pizzas and soft drinks are the cheapest and worst food available in the western countries. We think they are cool, but they are fooling us with their advertisements,” Darade said.

“The companies making these are targeting the budding children in their commercials to increase their profits. They have no concern about our children. We are destroying our generation with this junk food. The cases of hypertension, diabetics, cardiac diseases, obesity and other related diseases are increasing throughout the country,” she added.

The FDA Maharashtra commissioner stated that in the latest experiment conducted by the Indian Dietary Association with 20 schools, about 30 per cent children under the age of 12 were found to be pre-diabetic.

She added that schools and colleges should be responsible places of eating and not commercial places. The schools and parents should be responsible for imbibing healthy food habits in children. “This first-of-its-kind project is taking place in the country, and may be worldwide, for healthy food in schools and colleges,” Darade said.

Others present at the workshop included Chandrashekhar Salunkhe, joint commissioner, FDA, Nashik; Dr Rajendra Agarkar, nutrition, diabetes and hypertation expert, and founder president, Society for Prevention of Hypertension and Diabetes (India) (who was the chief speaker), nutritionists Aparna Pharande and Mayuri Joshi and Bhamare, joint commissioner, drugs, FDA Nashik. Over 90 schools and colleges from the district participated in the workshop, with over 400 representatives.

Salunkhe spoke on the need of prevention of obesity in school children. Dr Agarkar vividly elaborated the role of schools in the prevention of obesity. He also put forth the alarming picture of lifestyle diseases in India. Sayali Patwardhan, food safety officer, Nashik, elaborated the role of healthy food in the overall development of children. Prashant Umrani, assistant commissioner, made a presentation on good hygiene practices (GHPs) in preparing foods in the canteens and school kitchens. He also spoke on ways to prevent food poisoning cases.

Lastly, Darade addressed the gathering of school and college principals and kitchen in-charges. She guided various stakeholders on their roles and responsibilities. The schools and colleges which modified their canteen menus were facilitated by the food safety commissioner.
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