Opinion | Fast Food which is heavy on health! 

Being a diabetic myself, I have made it a rule that I read the information given on the label before buying any food item. Obviously, the first thing I look at is how much sugar has been added. This means that super-market juices, syrups, malt-based drinks, processed cereals such as oatmeal or oats, chocolates, toffees and flavored yogurts—all of which contain significant amounts of added sugar—are untouchable for me. Gradually, those components present in the food, I have started getting more curious about the information, about which I do not know much. I always try to buy food items with relatively less foreign ingredients and preservatives. Nowadays supermarket shelves are littered with packets of ultra-processed foods and drinks. I’m still not sure how helpful these efforts have been in saving me from the side effects of diabetes, but I guess being a little more informed than the average consumer makes a difference. The fact that American About 73 percent of the food items consumed in the United States fall into the ultra-processed category and in Europe the figure is about 60 percent. Taking a little extra care can be of great benefit to the consumer.

There are many videos on YouTube telling how harmful sugar is to our health, even adding sugar under pseudonyms. But first let us know what ultra processed food really is. A blog by Harvard Medical School defines it as ‘mostly this food product Added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat, starch, artificial colour, preservatives, etc. are added. Most of the items found in the supermarket definitely contain some of these ingredients. All I would say is, get in the habit of reading the label before making a purchase, being swayed by the glitz and allure of the packet.

After all, studies show that just a 10 percent increase in the intake of ultra-processed foods increases the likelihood of developing breast cancer. Similarly, brominated vegetable oil has been linked to thyroid disease and is added to each variety. For those who want to know more, I would suggest getting detailed information from the database available on the website called ‘True-Food Tech’. There, accounts of more than 50,000 items of food products prevalent in the American market have been given.

You can do a comparative study of the level of processing that has taken place during the making of a product. The information there can really be a guide as to which food item you should choose. Now if you say that this database is from America, then I would like to tell that many of these products are imported in India as well or they are being sold as their Indian counterparts, that means the same ultimate processing is being done here.

In any case, this database is helpful in knowing the true meaning of the information given in technical terms on the label of any food item. Here I am reminded of the recent spat between health guide and social media influencer Rewant Himatsingka and Cadbury, the multinational and behemoth. Revanth took to Instagram a few days back. A post debunked the health-boosting claims of Cadbury’s popular product Bournvita. The post spread like a fire on social media and was viewed by 12 million people on Instagram alone. Later it was also shared on social platforms like Twitter and Linked-in. But when Revanth received a legal notice from Cadbury’s top law firm, he removed the said posts and also demanded a public apology from the company. In this regard, Revanth said, ‘I apologize to Cadbury for making the said video. There was no plan or intention to defame any trademark or company.

Well they had to do it, but is it really right for Revanth, who runs a social media site called ‘Food Farmer’, to apologize unconditionally to a multinational food company. This controversy does not end here. After all, why would anyone want to get involved in a long drawn-out litigation with a big law-services firm? In the video of the delete, Revanth had shown ‘his 100 grams. Bournvita Ingredients 50 g, so is sugar, basically only half of China. However, Cadbury’s rote answer was ‘Bournvita is a scientifically formulated compound, the ingredients of which are recognized for use and all the ingredients are indicated on the label of the packet.’ Revanth’s post sparked a heated debate in the media.

I am glad that several media personalities, many medical doctors and people in the health sector have condemned the way Cadbury Company has silenced a man through legal means, while creating mass awareness about this so-called energy drink. Not only this, these experts also challenged the nutritional claims of the ingredients mentioned in the ingredients. In fact, this controversy points a finger at the wavering attitude of the Food Safety and Standards Establishment of our country, obviously leading to a lot of rebuttals on this subject. Reports suggest that the department is now in the process of making a rule that one has to prove one’s educational qualification before questioning the functioning or product of industries.

This is very wrong since the consumption of processed foods is very high. Lots of people do, so everyone has a right to question the company’s claims. Whatever the case, the growing evidence about the amount of sugar in processed foods has resulted in Mexico becoming the first country to impose a 10 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2014. Some studies suggest that this reduced sales of sugar-sweetened beverages by about 9.7 percent within a year. Subsequently, the UK also imposed a similar tax in April 2018, a decision that was heavily lobbied by big players in the sugar industry taken in spite of.

There have been many reports on the drop in sales and the effect it has had on stemming the growing number of obese people. Most recently, Brazil passed a new law banning the sale, marketing and distribution of products that cause obesity among school children, and ultra-processed foods fall into this category. I don’t understand why sugar-tax is not imposed on sugary drinks in India too. At the same time, those shown on television neither advertisements which specifically target children incite the consumption of junk food should be banned.

A country that many experts fear may become the diabetes capital of the world, should have had stricter rules and regulatory mechanisms in place by now. That is, there should be an announcement of financial penalty and punishment on those stars and celebrities, who knowingly or unknowingly become a part of its promotion by appearing in the advertisements of such products. The best way to save our small and young generation is that they should not get used to junk food.

As the saying goes, ‘Be molded from childhood’, I love the views of renowned nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar when she advises parents that whether it is the first time or every time, whenever children Ask for junk food, learn to say no to them firmly. At the same time, it is equally important to encourage people to eat home cooked food. More and more people should talk about this topic. Don’t get misled by the ‘home delivery’ facility of the flourishing service providers in the country.

The real celebration and enjoyment of food and drink is only when you cook and eat at home. If we have to save society from lifestyle diseases then it is absolutely necessary to inculcate this type of thing in the minds of young parents. Hope the parents are listening.

– The writer can be reached at vkmalout@gmail.com

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