Special provisions sought to discourage kids from eating junk

New Delhi: Concerned over high consumption of junk food by students, Women and Child Development minister Krishna Tirath has asked the HRD ministry to create special provisions to discourage such eating habits.

In a letter to HRD minister Kapil Sibal, Tirath has sought provisions for sensitisation of school students against junk food and also advocated restrictions on school canteens and eateries, sources said.

"Children due to stress of studies, lack of time and activity packed day often resort to `grab and run` eating habits, and include these junk/fast foods which are easily and readily available but harmful to our well being," Krishna said in her letter.

Tirath, whose ministry is presently battling the challenge of malnutrition in the country, said that children who consume a lot of junk food were also malnourished.

"Ostensibly these children are not malnourished as many a time we tend to confuse under-nutrition and malnutrition. But these children are also suffering from malnutrition," Krishna told Sibal in her letter.

Krishna asked Sibal to take direct measures to sensitise school-going children against adopting faulty eating habits.

"Restriction on school canteens and eateries in the school vicinities, would also send a strong message which would go a long way in discouraging excessive intake of such convenience foods," Krishna said in her letter.

"Principals/Teachers should also be asked to exhort children to increase intake of healthy food and to avoid junk food as a part of daily morning assembly or as part of first interaction with the children in their class rooms," she said.

Krishna requested Sibal to make "special provision for guidance and sensitisation in schools so as to address the issue and promote eating habits which are beneficial for growth and development of younger generation of our country."

In the letter, Krishna told Sibal that the issue of obesity and unhealthy lifestyle of urban adolescents was raised even in Parliament.

She said the Health ministry had also requested Health ministers of all states and Union Territories and also the HRD ministry to issue instructions for the withdrawal of junk food from schools and colleges.

Sources said the HRD minister has written back to Tirath assuring that her request was being examined by his ministry.