University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked all central varsities to take steps to ban the availability of junk food on their campuses.

In a letter to all Vice Chancellors, UGC secretary Jaspal S Sandhu said that the HRD ministry has desired to issue instructions against availability and sale of junk food in Higher Educational Institutions.

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“Banning junk food in colleges would set new standards for healthy food and make the students live better, and learn better and also reduce the obesity levels in young learners, thus preventing life style diseases which have a direct link with excessive weight,” the senior UGC official said in his communique.

He said that all central varsities should implement measures to sensitise the students on ill effects of junk food.

The UGC letter added that universities can serve as important data sources on student’s health.

Information on markers like body mass index (BMl)/percentage of body weight,waist hip ratio, etc can help in creating awareness among students towards their health, the UGC letter said.

It added that orientation programmes for faculty and staff be conducted on health issues. Wellness clusters should be created under the Students Welfare Department where counselling should be done regarding proper nutrition, proper exercise and healthy habits.

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These wellness clusters can also provide psychological support to the students to prevent and reduce the incidence of obesity in young students, the letter said.

“You are, therefore, requested that you may take necessary actions on the above points in your esteemed university and also circulate the instructions to all the colleges affiliated to your university,” the UGC letter said.

There are around 40 central varsities which have hundreds of colleges affiliated to them.

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