THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With childhood obesity and related health problems becoming a burning problem in the state, the Commissionerate of Food Safety has decided to tackle it head-on. It is planning to implement various strategies to reach out to children, parents and teachers at a much more broader scale.
It has decided to constitute state-level and district-level committees to implement its strategies effectively. “For dietary-based intervention at the school level, we have a project called ‘safe and nutritious food at school’. But it is limited to selected schools. To reach out to a wider audience with the message of taking up nutritious food, new strategies are needed,” said Ratan U Kelkar, Food Safety Commissioner.
“Some of the plans we have in mind include appointing college students, teachers and parents as health and wellness coordinators, engagement of professional bodies and others. Also, we had a couple of meetings with the Civil Supplies Department to procure and distribute only fortified food from the public distribution system,” added Ratan.
To reach out to its targeted group, the Commissionerate is also planning to tie up with Network of Professionals of Food and Nutrition in India (NetPro.FaN), Indian Medical Association, Kerala State IT Mission, National eGovernance Division and others.According to Kelkar, some of the activities being planned at schools include bringing a change in school canteen policy, organizing eat right days, designing healthy plate/lunch boxes and snacks for children and others.
Meanwhile, in a brainstorming session organised by the Commissionerate at Thycaud government guest house, on Tuesday, participants said that school children were at risk of serious long-term health problems, including type 2 diabetes, heart ailments, cholesterol, among others. Some other participants pointed out that authorities concerned should have separate strategies for government and private schools.
“While students of private schools are generally found to be overweight, students of government schools are found to be undernourished. Also, the scope of behavioural change should be explored while imparting diet lessons,” said a participant. In the first-ever Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey India 2016–18, released by the Healthy Ministry in the first week of the month, the state has the fifth highest number of overweight adolescents aged 10–19 years per cent.