The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has asked all its affiliated schools to ensure that food items like chips, carbonated drinks, ready-to-eat noodles, pizzas, burgers, and confectionery items like chocolates and candies are not available in the school canteens. The CBSE's circular states that consumption of food that is high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) has been found to be associated with many diseases, including type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
The circular also mentions other measures, including inspection of lunch boxes, to rule out consumption of unhealthy foods in schools. The Board has advised schools to also check that no such food items are available around 200 meters of the school premises.
Referring to a Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry report, CBSE secretary Joseph Emmanuel said that it provides insights on how to control the endemic problem of consumption of junk food available in and around schools. He said that many recommendations made in the report have a direct bearing on schools and suggested that they ensure there is no HFSS foods like potato fries, samosas, bread pakoras, etc, available in their canteens.
The CBSE letter said that schools should constitute a 'School Canteen Management Committee', having about 7 to 10 members including teachers, parents, students and school canteen operators, to implement and monitor the guidelines to make safe food available to students.
The Board said that it has already advised schools that there should be at least 40-45 minutes of physical activities or games for Classes I-X every day. Awareness-generating events regarding nutritious food and avoidance of HFSS foods, like Celebration of Nutrition Week (1-7 September) and other such occasions, may be organised throughout the year by the schools, the circular suggested.
The CBSE letter also stated that schools should regularly monitor the height, weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) for all the students, and based on their trajectory, individualised counselling should be provided to each student and parents during Parent-Teacher Meeting.
The schools may hire nutritionists and advocate regular physical activities such as yoga along with other lifestyle modifications, the circular said.
Feature image source: Reuters/Representational Image