Inside India’s reluctance to regulate junk food
- Nutritionists and physicians say they are treating rising cases of childhood obesity; now is the time to act
- India’s food regulators have done little. Guidelines on front-of-pack labels to warn consumers of unhealthy levels of sugar, salt and fat in packaged food are in the making for seven years
NEW DELHI : In the winter of 2018, a lab in Maryland, US, was the site of a remarkable experiment. Twenty adult volunteers in their early thirties, half of them women, were admitted to the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Centre for a month. The participants, in a random order, were put on two vastly different diets on a rotating basis. They were offered either minimally processed food or ultra-processed food (UPF). UPFs are industrially manufactured from substances extracted from natural food such as fats, starches and sugar, added with chemical flavours and stabilizers. Examples are commonly available inexpensive items such as sweetened breakfast cereals, fries, burgers, potato chips, biscuits, instant noodles, chocolates and the like.