Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

India’s nutrition transition sees a shift from traditional, fibre-rich diets to processed, high-calorie Western-style foods, leading to health issues like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. The surge in junk food consumption, low in nutrients but high in fats, salts, and sugars, exacerbates lifestyle diseases, reflecting a pressing health burden.

Nutrition transition and health impacts in India:
Nutrition Transition: India, like many countries experiencing rapid economic growth and urbanisation, is witnessing a significant change in dietary patterns. Traditional diets, which were once high in fibre and whole foods, are being replaced by Western-style diets characterised by processed foods and increased calorie consumption.
Health Impacts: This transition has led to a rise in lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Data cited suggests alarming rates of metabolic disorders in India, indicating the need for urgent action to address the health implications of dietary changes.
Influence of Advertising: Aggressive marketing of unhealthy foods, particularly targeting children and young consumers, contributes to the growing consumption of junk foods. Surveys indicate high rates of consumption of packaged foods and sweetened beverages among children.
Policy Interventions: The Indian government has recognized the need to tackle the issue of unhealthy diets and has implemented various initiatives. These include campaigns such as Eat Right India, the Fit India Movement, and the Poshan scheme. Additionally, regulations aim to restrict the sale of unhealthy foods in school environments.
Challenges and Solutions:
Define HFSS foods to protect children from junk food’s harm. FSSAI should clarify what constitutes HFSS foods that are foods high in fat, salt, and sugar to enforce regulations effectively. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights can ensure strict compliance with school food rules.
Implement Front-of-Pack Labelling for informed food choices. Replace complex nutrition tables with clear warning labels like “high in salt,” aiding consumers, especially those with health conditions like hypertension.
Subsidise healthy foods for better accessibility and affordability. Develop policies promoting whole foods, millets, fruits, and vegetables to encourage healthier consumption, particularly in rural and urban areas.
Launch behavioural change campaigns to promote healthy eating habits. Utilise multimedia messaging, “vocal for local” campaigns, and social media influencers to educate youth on the risks of junk foods and encourage balanced diets and mindful eating practices.
The Role of Public Awareness: There is an emphasis on the importance of creating public demand for healthier diets through awareness campaigns and behavioural change initiatives. This aligns with calls for a “Jan Andolan” or people’s movement towards healthier eating habits.

Conclusion: Highlight the urgency of transitioning to healthier diets, fostering a “Jan Andolan” or people’s movement. Implementing policies for informed food choices, prioritising public health and nutrition diversity will reduce the lifestyle diseases burden in India in the future and also enable India to achieve the SDG 4 by 2030.

Source The Hindu

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