Maharashtra Mulls Soft Drinks Ban in Schools
Mumbai: Maharashtra government is planning to impose a blanket ban
on the sale of soft drinks in schools across the state.
The decision follows a report by the Food and Drugs Administration
(FDA), which said soft drinks are bad for health and children are
drinking too much of it.
The FDA says:
Sale of aerated soft drinks have touched an all-time high. The resultant
health concerns are a cause of worry for everybody.
Various studies have shown that soft drinks are a major cause of abnormal
weight gain (obesity) in children.
Higher concentration of sugar, impurities like pesticide residues,
caffeine and its acidic nature are areas of major concern.
The argument seems to have found some support from the education minister
who said the sale of anything that's harmful for students will be
banned in schools.
"All food substances that are harmful for children should be kept
out of school premises," said Vasant Purke, Minister for School Education.
Much of the FDA report is based not on its independent research, but
existing studies that point out the health risks of drinking cola.
Although cola companies refused to react on camera, they sent NDTV
a release representing the industry.
"The industry has always recognised that schools are a very special
place. Our industry listens closely to parents and local school officials,
and ensures that the range of beverages sold in their schools reflects
their wishes," said the release.
"Having said this, we have not received any communication relating
to sale of soft drinks in schools in Maharashtra from the state government.
Going forward, we plan to initiate a dialogue with the concerned officials
to clarify all their concerns, if any," it added.
But the fact remains that even before this FDA report, some Mumbai's
better-known schools like St Stanislaus, Bombay Scottish and Poddar
School had already stopped stocking colas in their canteens.
However, the FDA says it doesn't want to leave it to the individual
choice of schools, but push for a blanket ban instead.
"I like soft drinks and I don't think there is any need to ban it
in schools. If we don't get them in schools, we will buy them outside,"
said a student.
"We should be allowed to have colas as they increase our concentration,"
Banning soft drinks in schools obviously won't prevent kids from drinking
it elsewhere. But it is a symbolic step that will make kids and parents
aware of the risks.
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