Hindustan Times, March 13, 2008

SIXTY FIVE percent of the city’s school-going children like junk food as preferred item in the lunch box, a study claimed. According to the study by a non-governmental organization, 43 per cent of them favoured aerated and canned drinks as well.

Survey titled “Lunch box challenge”, conducted by CUTS Centre for Consumer Action, Research and Training (CUTS CART), revealed these facts about children studying in classes 4 to 9 in the age group 9-14 years.

On the eve of the World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) on March 15, the survey was done to call attention of world community towards campaign against marketing of unhealthy food to children. This year’s theme of the WCRD is ‘Junk food generation’.

Out of the total 269 students (155 boys and 114 girls) who participated in the survey, 42 per cent were girls. In all nine institutions, including both government and private schools, were covered.

As per the survey, among junk or fast food items, the most preferred was pizza. Second preference of the children was noodles. Among the unhealthy desserts, aerated drinks were in the first positions and ice cream was the second.

Among healthy food, the most preferred item was traditional roti and sabji of dal. Pav bhaji was also liked by children followed by poha. Among healthy drinks, 26 per cent children preferred fresh fruit juice, compared to only 11 per cent opting for milk.

Surveyed kids mentioned that though the main reason for love of junk food was taste and look, they also remained mesmerized by TV advertisements, while choosing their food items.

“Survey findings showed that there was a need for advocacy and campaign for an international code on marketing of junk food to kids, George Cheriyan of the NGO CUTS said. The QHO had identified obesity as a global problem, pointing out that unhealthy diets were a cause for several diseases, he said.