Junk food is finally being recognised as a public food safety threat and that’s good. London has now banned junk food advertising on its public transport system.
The junk food problem in India is actually much larger than in the UK. All around us we see advertising for HFSS (High Fat Sugar Salt) foods; namkeens, mithai, chocolates, candy, biscuits, instant noodles, colas, sugary sodas, and more.
As far as fast food in India is concerned, most junk food items like samosas, kachodis, puri bhaji, vada pav and chaat, are not well advertised. These are mostly sold by roadside vendors and small restaurants. These are the biggest junk food problems in India, not fast food joints.
An advertising ban won’t work in India because it would only target the organised sector – soft drinks, namkeens, biscuits, candy, etc. How will it target the samosas, chaats, and vada pav?
A large education campaign for mothers (and in schools for children) is needed, so they can identify these junk foods and avoid them. Also, these foods must not be served in school canteens or near school compounds.
These foods are a much greater threat to the health of school children than cigarettes and alcohol, simply because almost all children indulge in this, whereas very few children smoke or drink.
If we must reduce or avoid the sharply escalating epidemic of diabetes and cancer, we must educate our mothers and kids.