Are you alarmed at the increasing presence of junk food and carbonated drinks in school canteens? Blame it on food commercialism.
Schools are desirable marketing areas for food and beverage companies, although many of the products marketed to students are nutritionally poor, says a study.
“Most students in elementary, middle and high schools are exposed to food commercialism – including exclusive beverage contracts and the associated incentives, profits and advertising – at school,” said Yvonne Terry-McElrath of University of Michigan.
Using a survey of school administrators, researchers estimated exposure to school-based commercialism for elementary, middle and high school students in the US from 2007 to 2012.
“The continuing high prevalence of school-based food commercialism calls for enforceable standards on the nutritional content of all foods and beverages available in school canteens,” said the study.
In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is putting in place final guidelines to determine what counts as healthy food in educational institutions.
The guidelines, to be released soon, would categorise food items commonly sold and consumed in schools under segments such as junk food, street food, nutritional food and unhealthy food.
According to food safety activists, the step is important since packaged food and beverage companies have been aggressively targeting kids.