Uttar Pradesh Government bans junk food in schools

The newly elected Uttar Pradesh (UP) government banned sale of junk foods and carbonates beverages inside and outside all CBSE, ICSE and UP board schools’ premises. These junk food and soft drinks are known to lead to a host of diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels. This ban makes UP the first state in India to take such an initiative.

The Uttar Pradesh government's action comes as a result of instructions for such a ban issued some time back by the Union ministry of health and family welfare. The ministry issued the instructions after the Delhi High Court began hearing a PIL filed by Uday Foundation, an NGO based in Delhi, to ban junk food in schools and around the school premises. The hearing began in December 2010. The High Court in December 2011, asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to provide guidelines to regulate junk food in schools. The deadline for the guidelines is scheduled for July this year.

In March 2012, a study conducted by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found very high levels of salt, sugar and trans fats in the various junk foods. The study revealed that the labels on these products were found to provide misleading and incomplete information especially about trans fat content in foods. It is a well established fact that frequent consumption of such products which provide empty calories and lack otherwise in nutrition lead to obesity and various other non communicable diseases (NCDs) including hypertension, diabetes and increased cholesterol levels.

It may be noted that various countries have already adopted different measures to deal with the issue of junk foods. UK, Mexico, parts of US, Canada and UAE has already banned junk foods in schools. Hungary and Denmark have put fat tax on products containing more than 2.3% of saturated fats. Britain has also put ban on advertisement of junk foods on television before 9 PM.