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Source: This post is created based on the article “Making healthy choice the easier choice”, published in The Hindu on 9th January, 2023.
Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 2, Social issues, Health related issues
News: The 2017-18 National NCD monitoring survey reported that 98% of Indians do not take adequate fruits and vegetables and only 59% of adults do adequate physical activity.
What are the reasons behind unhealthy lifestyle of Indians?
1) People giving less importance to health.
2) Eating unhealthy due to taste and cost consideration.
3) Laziness for physical exercise
What are the factors causing unhealthy lifestyle?
Physical, economic, and socio—cultural environments, in which people make their decisions about taking food or doing physical activity, do not support healthy choices.
First, people including children are heavily influenced by food marketing.
Second, unhealthy products are easily available, priced lower and displayed more prominently in grocery stores.
Third, culturally, our diet is so cereal/pulse-based, that leaves a little space to eat sufficient fruits and vegetables.
Fourth, some of the factors discourage people from doing physical exercise – air pollution, weather (hot-cold-rains), unusable footpaths, lack of parks or, often unsafe and poorly lit parks.
Fifth, industry self-regulation of front—of—pack food labelling has not worked well. Commercial interests like the food industry are powerful interest groups. They would oppose interventions aimed at labelling or reducing salt or sugar.
What should government do?
1) Regulating the marketing of foods to children. Many countries have banned or restricted the advertising of food and beverages on children’s channels or at times when they watch television.
2) Taxing junk food, incentivizing healthier options and subsiding fruits and vegetables should be considered to tackle the issue of affordability.
3) Improving awareness of people about making healthy choices.
4) Preventing multiple reheating of oils, lower oil, salt, and sugar use during preparation at the restaurants.