Built Environment: Accessibility and Availability of Health foods matters more than prescription alone

Setting Up school based canteen

Unhealthy diets are likely to be a significant contributor to the chronic diseases burden in India. Junk food consumption from school canteen during lunch was associated with obesity risk, revealed in a study conducted by Dutta (2012 ). These studies demonstrated that the problem is more severe among affluent urban schools (Subramanayam et al., 2003; Ramachandran et al..., 2002; Shabana & Vijay, 2009 ). In this context, the World Health Organization (2010) empathized to promote healthy behavior especially eating right as a primary strategy for the prevention of chronic diseases among children, understanding that modifying behavior at a younger stage would be much easier than at later. The promotion of healthy eating has enormous benefits both to children and adults. Studies conducted in Chennai, by Radhika et al., (2010) revealed that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables significantly decreased several cardiovascular risk factors. Further, the same authors have also shown that reduced consumption foods less in salt and sodium decreased the prevalence of hypertension.

Studies conducted in the developed countries revealed that school-based intervention would be cost-effective and favorable preventive method to modify obesity-related risk factors. The majority of the schools in Chennai has school canteen and many students buy food and drinks especially consumed during lunch time which significantly contribute to their total food intake. In general, the items sold in the canteen are fried Indian snacks, chips, ice candy and some offer noodles and fried rice, etc. Thus, enhancing the quality of school Canteen by limiting the availability of energy dense products located in the school environment and promoting healthy foods such as milk and fruit based drinks, whole grain sandwich, brown rice, whole grain cereals such as noodles, and vegetable based foods.

Objective:

  • To analyze present food available and quality of service offered by selected urban schools
  • To identify health food items which are easy and suitable for preparation and sale and also provides reasonable profit margin
  • To pilot the healthy option in School canteen in selected one school
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