UGC to ban the sale of junk foods in colleges and universities.Junk food or fast food has become an increasingly popular food choice to grab when on the go. Ideally, junk foods are defined as processed foods with negligible nutrient value and are often high in salt, sugar, and fat. But we often confuse fast foods with junk foods. These foods are prepared in a way that they look appealing and are enjoyable so you are chemically programmed to ask for more.
According to Dr. Sunali Sharma, Dietician & Nutritionist, Amandeep Hospital, “Commercial products including but not limited to salted snack foods, gum, candy, sugary desserts, fried fast food, and sweetened carbonated beverages that have little or no nutritional value but are high in calories, salt, and fats may be considered junk foods.
Though not all fast foods are junk foods, a great number of them are. For instance, a salad may be fast food but is definitely not junk food. Some foods like burgers, pizzas, and tacos may alternate between junk and healthy categories depending on the ingredients, calories, and process of manufacturing.”
Recently, HRD ministry has issued a circular asking the UGC to ban the sale of junk food on premises of higher education institutions The University Grants Commission (UGC) has directed all varsities and higher education institutions to ban the sale of junk food on their campuses.
UGC said,”Banning junk food in colleges will set new standards for healthy food, making the students live better, learn better and reduce obesity levels. This will prevent lifestyle diseases which have a direct link with excessive weight. You are requested to ensure strict adherence to the advisory. Create awareness among the younger generation who are vulnerable.”
A similar move was made earlier by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) which had directed all affiliated schools to take junk food off their canteen menu. At the time, schools were also asked to inspect lunch boxes of students, create awareness about nutritious food and regularly monitor students’ health. The circular was released following a report by the Ministry of Women and Child Development on consumption of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) and promotion of healthy snacks in schools.
Advise has also been given to conduct orientation programs for faculty and staff on issues pertaining to health. It was also suggested that ‘wellness clusters’ under Students Welfare Departments should be set up of which could serve as counseling centers for proper nutrition and exercise and healthy habits, as well as psychological support to prevent and reduce the incidence of obesity in young students.