In an effort to curtail the growing rate of diabetes in India, the government is coming up with stringent measures including higher taxes and more rigorous advertisement regulations to control sale of sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food in the country.
The health ministry and the central food safety regulator are preparing a detailed proposal to restrict increasing consumption of unhealthy food and beverages, mainly among children resulting in an epidemic of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
Talking to TOI, a senior official in ministry said, "There is a serious effort to control non-communicable diseases mainly diabetes and cancer. We have drawn a multi-sectoral action plan and consultations are being held with different ministries. There are specific proposals as part of the plan."
The ministry is now collecting the feedback from all the ministries and will soon forward the proposal to the finance ministry and the PMO for further action, he added.
The government's proposal, which follows the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO), is likely to include strict packaging norms for packaged junk food and beverages including soft drinks, energy drinks and other sugar sweetened beverages. While the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has been directed to take up the packaging related issues of such products, the ministry is also considering charging restrictions on endorsement and advertisement of such products.
Emphasizing how sedentary lifestyles along with sugary, salty and fatty diets rich in refined carbohydrates are spreading the epidemic, WHO South East Asia regional director Poonam Khetrapal Singh said the governments must also enforce accurate food labeling to help consumers make right decisions and impose tax on sugary beverages and reinvest the returns in health promotion activities.