The University Grants Commission has directed all varsities and higher education institutions to ban the sale of junk food on their campuses.
Universities have been asked to ensure strict adherence to the advisory and to create more awareness among the younger generation who are vulnerable.
A circular released by the commission said, “Banning junk food in colleges would set new standards for healthy food and make the students live better and learn better. It would also reduce obesity levels in young learners, thus preventing lifestyle diseases, which have a direct link with excess weight.
The circular by UGC reads, “All the universities are requested to take necessary action by implementing measures to sensitize the students on the ill effects of junk food. Universities can serve as important data sources on student’s health. Information on markers like body mass index, percentage of body weight vs waist hip ratio etc. can help in creating awareness among students towards their health.”
“Orientation programmes for faculty and staff should be conducted on health issues. Wellness clusters should be created under the students welfare department where counselling should be done regarding proper nutrition, proper exercise and healthy habits,’’ the circular reads.
However, the students are unhappy about the ban because they say the quality of the food they get in hostels is not upto the mark and UGC should also address the horrible food provided in the hostels at varsities.
A student union leader from the University of Hyderabad, Kuldeep Singh said, “Promoting a healthy lifestyle among students is always a welcome step but imposition of such a move can always backfire. Especially in the context of UGC’s unwillingness to address the issue of horrible food provided in messes and canteens inside the campus. This move of UGC can only be welcomed if they issue strict instructions to the universities and institutes to ensure quality and hygienic food at canteens.”
“If universities are given the right to ban a particular type of food then they must also be forced to ensure proper food in messes and canteens through a circular. If students are falling prey to illnesses (unhealthy lifestyle) due to the addiction to junk food then they are also getting ill because of the bad food provided. This is an issue which almost all the universities administrations do not pay any heed to,” he added.