Indicating they are determined to provide healthy food to the students, a number of universities and colleges in India have informed the University Grants Commission (UGC) of their decision to ban junk food in their cafeterias.
The UGC had recently sent a circular advising universities and colleges to ban junk food and aerated beverages in their canteens. The ban list includes fizzy drinks, cutlets, fish fries and fish fingers, burgers and hot dogs.
The UGC advisory was based on a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the adverse impact of junk food on children's health, which includes obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and even cancer.
A study conducted by Dr Anoop Mishra of New Delhi-based All India Institute of Medical Sciences had found that children who consume junk food were at an early risk of developing diabetes and heart diseases. About 33 per cent of nearly 1,850 school children who were interviewed, ate junk food three or more times a week, irrespective of their economic status, the study found.
The findings were shared by the Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss with the HRD minister Arjun Singh, who asked the UGC to send a health advisory to the universities and colleges.
A number of colleges are responding to the advisory. But, the UGC officials admitted, following stiff opposition from sections of students and staff, even such colleges have been forced to go slow in their mission. For instance aerated drinks continue to be available in those institutions.
Still it is welcome they have realized the need to promote healthy eating habits among students, officials noted.