A group of public health experts, consumers, lawyers and patients have appealed to the Indian government to control the rising consumption of junk food among the country’s youth.
Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) and NAPI, a national level think tank working on nutrition policy, have jointly published a report titled, ‘The Junk Push’.
This report says, ‘India is facing a serious health crisis due to diseases like obesity and diabetes. The 2023 ICMR-IndiaB study also shows that there are 10 crore cases of diabetes and one out of every four people is suffering from diabetes or pre-diabetes or obesity.’
The report said, ‘New data collected through Nutrition Tracker has revealed that 43 lakh children under the age of five are becoming obese or overweight. This is a figure of only 6 percent of the total children tracked.
Consumption of junk food is also one of the major reasons for the increasing number of non-communicable diseases among adult youth and children. To curb its consumption, the report urges the government to take cognizance of advertisements by companies producing foods high in sugar and salt.
“We believe these advertisements are misleading,” NAPI said in the report. These advertisements usually use tactics such as celebrity endorsements, emotional appeals, make unproven health claims and target children. “None of the advertisements provided the ‘most important information’ required for food products as per the Consumer Protection Act 2019, including the amount of sugar, salt or saturated fat.”
Arun Gupta, pediatrician and convener of NAPI, said, ‘Existing regulatory policies are not effective in controlling any junk food advertisements as most of them are misleading and are specifically targeted at children and adolescents. Are.’
People associated with the report said it would be important to push for better laws to control the public health crisis of such non-communicable diseases.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Chandra Uday Singh said, ‘There may be a possibility of bringing a bill in Parliament which will help in bridging the gap in the existing regulatory system.’
According to an August 2023 study by WHO India, retail sales of ultra-processed foods in India have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.37 percent between 2011 and 2021.
First Published : September 22, 2023 | 11:18 PM IST