Schools Shoo Cola Genie Away!
Hindustan Times
August 7, 2006

New Delhi: NOT ONE. Not two. Many major city schools have already banned colas and junk foods. They claim it’s purely a health issue and has nothing to do with pesticides-in-soft-drink scare. But, what without colas? It’s mattha, milk and juices and dosas!

Delhi Public School, Eldeco branch banned colas two years ago. Modern School (Aliganj) got rid of them just six months ago. Study Hall (Gomti Nagar) did it just three months ago. But, what’s interesting is that the city schools have responded to it as a major health issue and broadbased their concern in the same spirit. Now schools canteens serve idli-sambhar, dhokla, sandwiches, mattha, milk, juices to students and teachers.

Principal of Study Hall Urvashi Sahani says: “It’s about three months ago we banned the ‘cold-drinks’ on campus. Now our canteen provides fruit juices or milk. Once our canteen proprietor cribbed that many times students go out to have cold drinks, so why not reintroduce it? But we did not allow. The issue is not pesticides residues. Pesticides or no pesticides, these cold drinks are not healthy.”

The Principal of Delhi Public School (DPS), Eldeco, says: “Two years ago we did away with cold drinks — it was the time when the controversy had first emerged. We now give branded bottled mild, fruit juices. Till now we had those non-cola cold drinks. But now we are putting a ban on that too.”

Modern School’s founder manager Rakesh Kapoor says: “We had banned it six months ago. We don’t want any unhealthy food, drinks, snacks to be sold on our campus. Now idli-sambhar, dhoklas are in thing in our campus. It was just a habit that students out of fashion and trend got hooked to cold-drinks. We are making idli-sambhar, dhoklas, fruit juices or milk fashionable”.

Lucknow has a movement going on in form of HOPE Initiative about health awareness to schoolchildren that has Dr Gaur Choudhuri, HoD of Gastroenterology, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences and Justice DK Trivedi at the helm of affairs. They have been running campaign in the form of health awareness lectures, debates, discussions, and interactive sessions on HOPE’s website. Just two weeks ago, it had teachers from several schools converge at SGPGIMS to learn about hepatitis B. So that in turn they make students aware about it.

All these schools and many more have become regulars in health awareness programmes that HOPE Initiative runs.

“Some months ago we had held a campaign to make students aware about health hazards of cold drinks and junk food. The horrors we told them made several students come up and pledge that they will not consume cold drinks,” said Dr Choudhuri.

“The phosphoric acid (used as a preservative) levels in these drinks, can lead to leaching of calcium and bones, besides the protein content is almost nil. Another fact is that the empty calories (lot of calories but no nutritive value) got from these drinks have actually led to an increase in the number of obese children in India. By 2020, approximately 20% of Indian kids will be obese. Then there is caffine contents that are addictive and stimulant,” he said.

On April 21 this year, in an interschool debate on ‘the banning of colas and junk food in and around schools’ saw students from 16 different schools participate on the topic.

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