Mumbai Schools: In Love with Junk Food?

Have you noticed the school buses stacked outside pizza outlets in Mumbai these days? Look up the major pizza outlets for Dominoes, Papa John's, Krispy Kreme and odds are one day a week you will notice a bunch of very happy and excited young kids (less than 10 years of age) lined outside. The teachers, carefully filing the kids into queues to enter and then, finally leading them back into their buses.

To be honest, this seems like a very disturbing trend. Are we promoting junk food to kids in schools now?

As homes, most parents have an 'earn your treat' concept. Wherein kids have access to junk food on occasions or as a bribe for studies/good behavior. This is important too; the control of the junk food intake. Realistically, in today's world we cannot really expect kids to completely abstain from junk food, but at least as mature adults, we can regulate it for them and breed the concept that it is not daily/healthy food.

These joints tend to offer good deals to schools for such outings and yes it is cheap endorsement for the brand. The kids come in, see the party environment, eat junk (which they love!!) and then go back happy, wanting to come back again. The brand image deeply rooted in their simple innocent minds. So, whenever parents give them the option to eat junk, we know which names come to their mind first.

The real question is... should schools, the so called, institutions of knowledge be working hand in glove with such establishments that have guaranteed long term side effects? While schools get monetary benefits and seem to come across as cool and modern, aren't these places supposed to be the original source of good information? Shouldn't they be teaching the kids that 'junk is bad, healthy is good'? Even at the cost of coming across as villains to the kids? If kids are taken to such places by schools themselves, the whole concept of good food/bad food is blurred. Isn't it? Then it's only a matter of time that kids use the counter argument 'If my school thinks it is OK, why are you objecting?'

Even if you notice advertisements these days; be it TV or radio or print media even, the prime target is children. Of course kids have high excitement levels and parents do not tend to say no for far too long. So, in a way, they are the perfect audience to push your product into lives of normal people. The cost of which, is easily visible these days. The sheer number of kids walking around with spectacles, issues with real world (non-digital) social interactions and importantly obesity.

As parents and thinking adults, it is really our job to be questioning this trait of schools. It is not at all cool and most definitely not expected from places with good formal education. Parents should ideally stand up against such a culture - a fast food unhealthy culture; which is slowly moving from occasion based diet to primary diet, leading to early medical issues in children.

Quoting the Indian Paediatric Society report
"Consumption of diet high in sugar, saturated fat, salt and calorie content in children can lead to early development of obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia and impaired glucose tolerance. The concerns with fast food consumption in developing countries also include poor hygiene during preparation, storage and handling leading to microbiological contamination.

Fast foods have high level of fat & sugars that are not only unhealthy but addictive & that creates a vicious cycle making it hard for children to choose healthy food. High content of trans fat in commercially available fast foods predispose children to risk of future heart diseases. Moreover, the micro-nutrient content (vitamins A&C, magnesium, carotene) of the fast food is also low leading to osteoporosis"

Shouldn't that be enough to convince you to regulate the food your kids eat? To question schools about education imparted and importantly emphasis on healthy lifestyles? It may be practically impossible to keep kids off junk altogether. Some amount is needed for immunity building, social needs & to control cravings, but just like everything in life, control is mandatory. Kids being kids cannot do it on their own and as adults it is our duty towards them.

Start the change from your own home and pass the message on... For a better tomorrow that our kids deserve !!


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