It`s not just the canteen food

Last Updated: Nov 10, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

New Delhi: Don`t just blame the canteen food for your child`s ill-health, the fault could also lie with the tiffin you are giving him every day.

A survey conducted across 15 schools in Delhi and NCR region has concluded that unhealthy food brought in tiffins from home is to blame as much as the canteen food for the high incidence of lifestyle related and infectious diseases among school children.

The study conducted by Swashrit, an NGO, among 10,000 school children says that most of the children felt extremely tired by the end of the day and could only jog for 15 minutes at a stretch.

According to the survey, 50 per cent of the children who were interviewed said they eat eggs or pulses and nuts only once a week.

Though 90 per cent of the children got their own tiffin from home, they would supplement it with canteen food. The preferred food items are burgers, kathi rolls,
chowmein, chips and pizzas.

Dr Bhavna Barmi, senior clinical psychologist at the Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre who headed the survey said, "Obesity and diabetes are a growing concern among children and the real cause behind them needs to be understood. If school canteen sold junk food the tiffin that came from home was no better. It had food that contained highly saturated fat.

"Due to erratic lifestyle, parents have no time to give the correct diet to their children," she said. As such, she insisted that child health policies should include introducing effective guidelines for schools in order to bring about good nutrition and hygienic habits among school children.

Speaking in the same vein, Sanjeev Bagai, CEO, Batra Hospital and Research Centre underscored that developing and implementing effective guidelines for school administrators was necessary to assist them in having definite school health policies that will take into account all aspects including nutrition and physical exercise.

"Nowadays, lifestyle related diseases like diabetes are no more limited to elderly people. Children as young as one to one-and-a-half year are being diagnosed for Type I diabetes. Type II is now common among children in the age category of 12 and above. There is a great need to address health issues at the school level," S K Wangnoo, Senior Consultant Endocrinology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital said.

Keeping this in mind, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in association with non-profit health advocacy groups - HEAL Foundation, Vision Mission Foundation and
Project Hope-- has launched `Diabetes Blue Fortnight` being observed from the November 1-14.

In line with the need for urgent interventions to counter diabetes, a Child Health Congress 2010 will also be held here.

Swadeep Srivastava, Principal Consultant HEAL said the conclave will "introduce unique interactive school health programmes that engage teachers, principals, parenting groups,
school counsellors and fitness experts."

PTI