FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) has recently issued guidelines on making nutritious foods available to school children. To implement this, one of the ways suggested by FSSAI is for the schools to ban the sale of HFSS (High Fat, Sugar, Salt) foods within 50 meters radius of the school. The underlying principles for such a ban is that a) children are not the best judge to choose healthy foods, b) schools are not the right place to promote HFSS foods, c) benefits of traditional nutritious foods cannot be replaced and d) school children need to have better dietary habits.
Although the intention of FSSAI is very good and this is a positive step towards making the children healthier, the implementation might have many hiccups. This method not only requires the school authorities to improve their food / canteen facilities, but also requires regular inspection of the children’s lunch boxes. There are a few schools that are already checking the students’ lunch boxes regularly but this needs to be done at every single school in our country. Secondly, the parents need to play an important role in ensuring that their children carry and eat nutritious foods while at school and at home. Careful planning of meals and buying healthy foods from the grocery shop can go a long way in making meals nutritious. Lastly, children’s participation in shopping, chopping and cooking can also help in increasing awareness and making healthier decisions in food choices.