A state government study has found that a third of the school children in Maharashtra suffer from diabetes or hypertension, primarily because of the food they consume from their school canteens, a top official said on Monday.
The study, involving 20 schools, has blamed the higher incidence of such life-style diseases to the food served in the school canteens, Pallavi Darade, commissioner for state food and drug administration, said speaking at an event organised by industry lobby CII.
"We were shocked to find that as much as 30 percent of the school students in the state are suffering from diabetes or hypertension, and we identified that the food served in their school canteens is the main culprit," the CII said quoting Pallavi Darade.
The statement did not disclose the age of the kids or name the schools/cities covered, but said in the case of adolescent kids, ever a third or the fourth child is obese.
The study, carried out to find out how the kids are doing on the health front, was launched on the World Food Day, which is observed on October 16 every year, CII said.
She said a new diet scheme launched following the discovery is likely to be extended to 600 schools having their own canteens across the state.
Meanwhile, Ms Darade reiterated that the state will soon ask hotel and restaurants to specify the calorie count of each food item along with the price on the menu. The move is aimed at controlling lifestyle diseases, she added.
"We are planning to ask hotels and restaurants to mention the calorie count of the food they serve to enable consumers take an informed decision while choosing the food, and not ending up with diabetes or hypertension," she said.
She explained that high fat, salt and sugar food has direct relation to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and to cardiovascular/heart diseases and hence, regulating intake of such items is essential.
She said the policy is "under consideration" of the government, adding it will start with five-star hotels and other restaurants which have the capability to declare such aspects.
The industry lobby also launched a report on frozen foods at the event.