CSE backs centre’s recommendations to ban junk food in schools

Earlier this week, an expert panel set up by the ministry of women and child development recommended ban on sale of junk foods in school canteens

New Delhi: Backing the recommendations made by a government-appointed committee to ban sales of junk food in school canteens, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Saturday urged the government to restrict availability of such items to children.

Noting that consumption of junk food among children was a big problem, Delhi-based CSE said that the recommendations were in the right direction and several other countries have already taken similar measures. Earlier this week, an expert committee set up by the ministry of women and child development and chaired by T. Longvah, director in-charge of the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, recommended ban on sale of junk foods in school canteens in its report submitted to the ministry.

“Junk food consumption among school children is a big problem and the recommendations of the committee are in the right direction. Several countries have taken similar measures. The ministry needs to take this forward now," said Sunita Narain, CSE director general.

The committee was asked to look into the issues related to growing problems of obesity in children and its relationship with consumption of junk food.

“CSE welcomes the recommendations of the committee. The government must act on it now. Banning junk food in schools and near-by, formulating school canteen guidelines and appropriate labelling regulations are some of the necessary steps. The committee has also suggested that street-vendors should not be permitted to sell junk food items during school timings in a vicinity of 200 metres from any school," said Chandra Bhushan, CSE deputy director general. “CSE has been pushing for such comprehensive set of regulatory initiatives for stricter control on availability and exposure among school children."

In 2012, CSE had tested and found high levels of salt, sugar and fat in commonly available junk foods such as pizzas, burgers, soft drinks. In 2014, the green body published a set of regulatory initiatives required to limit junk food consumption especially in schools. PTI