In view of easy availability and increasing trend of consumption of fast foods and sugar-sweetened beverages (fruit juices and drinks, carbonated drinks, energy drinks) in Indian children, and their association with increasing obesity and related non-communicable diseases, there is a need to develop guidelines related to consumption of foods and drinks that have the potential to increase this problem in children and adolescents
Dr Heena Gupta Mittal, a senior paediatrician at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital who was part of a consultative group, stated, “We recommend intake of regional and seasonal whole fruits over fruit juices in children and adolescents, and advises no fruit juices/drinks to infants and young children (below the age of 2), whereas for children aged between 2-5 y and 5-18, their intake should be limited to 125 mL/day (half a cup) and 250mL/day (one cup), respectively.”
She added, “Fruit juices, whether fresh or packaged, are high in calorie and sugar content. Whole fruits help in the development of muscles, and are good for dental health also.”
The Indian Academy of Paediatrics has short-listed a few guidelines:
- No fruit juices for kids below the age of two.
- Avoid fruit juices as they contain additional sugar, consume whole fruits instead.
- Caffeinated energy drinks should not be consumed by children and adolescents.
- A national consultative group suggests a new acronym ‘JUNCS’ foods, to cover a wide variety of concepts related to unhealthy foods (Junk foods, Ultra-processed foods, Nutritionally inappropriate foods, Caffeinated/coloured/carbonated foods/beverages, and Sugar-sweetened beverages).
- The group supports recommendations of a ban on the sale of JUNCS foods in school canteens and in near the vicinity, and suggests efforts to ensure availability and affordability of healthy snacks and foods.
- The group supports traffic light coding of food available in school canteens and recommends the legal ban of screen/print/digital advertisements of all the JUNCS foods for channels/magazines/websites/social media catering to children and adolescents.