Oct 15, 2012
Blaming junk food as the primary cause of obesity, a study says around 20 per cent of school-going children in India are overweight.
Celebrities like Rahul Bose and Shiamak Davar participated in a Delhi Quarterathon to raise awareness against the hazards of junk food leading to juvenile diabetes. According to recent studies, the incidence of juvenile diabetes is on the rise in Indian metros and Indians are among the world's most depressed.
Experts believe that the Rs 8000-crore junk food industry in India is largely responsible for the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases and will play a significant role in killing two-thirds of deaths in India by 2030.
Seductively packaged, slickly marketed and promoted aggressively during children’s shows and on cartoon networks in a bid to ‘catch ’them young’, junk food is directly linked to depression, lower IQ among children, obesity, the early onset of diabetes and heart diseases, and a host of other pathological conditions.
Bollywood actor Rahul Bose, politician Sandeep Dikshit along with a host of students, their teachers and parents got together for Delhi Quarterathon, a run for ‘junking junk food’ organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in New Delhi. “Junk the junk food,” exhorted Rahul Bose.
Contemporary dance guru Shiamak Davar, who supported the run and the cause behind it, said: “The initiative taken by CSE is very close to my work with dance education. The idea is to inculcate healthy and positive behavior amongst school students. The Quarterathon is such an exciting way to create awareness on the endeavour and I extend my support to the organization that ensures passing on the right message to the youth.”
According to a CSE study most junk food falls into the categories of either ‘snack food’ or ‘fast food’. Burgers, french fries, pizzas, colas and energy drinks are some of the more popular Western junk food. Samosas, kachoris, bread pakodas, packaged bhujia, instant noodles, momos, tikkis and bhaturas top the list of Indian junk food.
In March 2012, CSE had tested 16 major brands of junk foods, and found most of them loaded with high levels of trans fats, salts and sugar. While excess salts and sugar are a cause for concern, the real terror is in the trans fats. The WHO says that in a balanced diet, a maximum of 1 per cent of total energy should come from trans fats. Therefore, an adult male can have 2.6 gram of trans fats per day, while an adult female can have 2.1 gram and a child (10-12 years) can have 2.3 gram.
CSE’s tests also revealed a ‘dirty’ truth of misinformation, misbranding, wrong labelling and obfuscation indulged in by companies, some of whom are on the top of the charts. They show that many junk foods claim they have ‘0’ trans fats; some don’t even bother to mention how much trans fats they have. “A child who eats one of those immensely savoury MacDonald’s Happy Meals finishes up 90 per cent of all his daily requirement of trans fats. The packet of Happy Meal makes absolutely no mention of this massive dosage of trans fats,” the tests revealed.
CSE researchers say that the heavy doses of trans fats, joined with that of salt – which comes from all the so called ‘fun foods’ -- work together to trigger ill health which can lead to death. “Trans fats are notorious for clogging arteries: they deposit on the walls of the arteries and make them narrower. On top of that, when one has large amounts of salt, the blood pressure increases. The heart has to work overtime to push the blood around, which weakens it considerably,” experts said.
CSE has taken a strong stand against all that is junk in food. “Junk food should be banned in schools, as the first step to push school authorities towards healthier and more nutritious options for our children,” Sunita Narain, CSE director general.