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Trans Fat Free Children

Globally…

  • Consumption of industrially produced trans fats are estimated to cause around 500,000 deaths per year due to coronary heart disease
  • Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), commonly referred to as heart disease or stroke, are the number 1 cause of death around the world
  • 11 out of 15 countries with the most coronary heart disease deaths due to trans fats
  • WHO currently attributes one-third of all global deaths (15.3 million) to CVD, with developing countries, low-income and middle-income countries
  • 1 in 3 deaths globally are as result of CVD, yet the majority of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable

In India…

  • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including CVDs, are estimated to account for 60% of total adult deaths in India
  • CVDs account for over a quarter (26%) of these deaths

Children and trans Fatty Acids – the connection

Trans fatty acids (TFA) are found in many ready-made foods at grocery stores and in many items at fast-food restaurants. Vegetable shortenings and margarine are composed primarily of  hydrogenated oils. Thus, any food product that contains shortening or margarine is likely to contain TFA , including cookies, crackers, snack bars, cereals, fried foods, and other baked goods.

Children are equally vulnerable in terms of consuming trans fats as the food items like fried foods and cookies are largely considered the ‘go to’ food for children. Although the adverse effects of trans fats are not seen until adult life, yet its manifestations begin from early childhood. Human studies have confirmed that trans fatty acids are transported across the placenta and that the percentages of trans fatty acids in maternal and infant plasma lipid profiles are similar. Even as toddlers, they are exposed to trans fatty acids through different snacks. Food habits in children are formed by the age of 5-6 years and by the time they reach their teens, they already are into a viscous cycle of unhealthy eating. But early intervention can prevent them from consuming foods rich in trans fats.

In India, school going children are also exposed to a lot of trans fat foods especially in school canteens in the form of fried foods, bhujia, namkeenand sweets.  Many of these foods  are made in vanaspati so that they can be preserved for long. Doctors also said that an interesting study by AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) showed only 13 per cent of educated individuals pay any attention to what they are consuming, and the number of heart bypass surgeries among youth has also increased.  So it is time, that we need to sensitise the youth and adults of tomorrow on the harmful effects of trans fats and how to choose tour food more wisely.

“Making food trans fat-free, saves lives and saves money, and, by preventing heart attacks, reduces the burden on health care facilities, said Dr Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives.

In order to minimise use of trans fats among school children, the Indian Food Regulator, FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India), recently announced a ban on the sale and advertisement of junk food in and around 50 meters of school premises.  However, soon after passing the order, the regulations on junk food in school canteens watered down as the idea of classifying food in yellow, red and green categories has been dropped by the government.  But this should not stop us, the civil society in creating awareness among school children and other stakeholders on the harmful effects of trans fats.

Objectives:

  •  protect and sensitise the children on the harmful effects of trans fat
  • To inculcate the habit of healthy eating among school going children in India
  • To ensure that they become torch bearers for others in their schools and community
  • To create awareness on how to choose foods and what to eat in their growing years

Strategy:

  • School Children will be sensitised through this program and will become torch bearers of healthy eating and share the knowledge further with peers and other stakeholders.
  • Webinars will be organised for spreading the message on healthy eating where experts through interactive session will propagate the idea on healthy eating
  • Short videos, educational infographics, creation of meme for students about transfats will be shared with students in online mode
  • Interactive materials will also be shared on various digital platforms to be accessed by all the stakeholders
  • Online workshops will be organised in schools with experts to help children understand the harmful effects of trans fats and generate awareness among various stakeholders like teachers, parents and staff.
  • Dissemination of information and knowledge sharing will be done through various digital platforms and even IEC kits.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Students will be sensitised on the ill-effects of trans fats and how it impacts their food habits and mental health.
  • Short videos on healthy eating will have a greater impact on the young minds
  • Teacher and parents will be contributing towards trans fat free products by motivating students to go for healthier choices.
  • An online pledge will be taken by students to avoid trans fat free food
Smrati1 Kushwah

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