Health Experts: Pictorial Warnings Should Be Placed On Junk Food

According to heath experts and nutritionists, there should be pictorial warnings on packages of junk food. In a similar line to tobacco-based products, pictorial warnings will provide information about the health risks associated with consuming junk food, according to the experts. The demand for warnings was made by the panel of experts from Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI), AIIMS, the Public Health Foundation of India and the National Institute of Nutrition.

Discouraging Consumption Of Junk Food

The pictorial warnings will serve as a tool to discourage people, especially children, from purchasing junk food. Vandana Jain, additional professor of paediatrics at AIIMS, talking about the initiative said, “We have recommended pictorial warnings on junk foods like chips, colas, pizzas, burgers or health warnings saying that this product contains fat and salt in excess of what is recommended or even a picture of liver may on pack indicating that consuming them may led to fatty liver in children and adults.”

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Poor Diet and Obesity

One of the main reasons behind the addition of pictorial warnings is to curb childhood obesity and poor diet for adults. According to the World Health Organization, obesity and poor diet is one of the major concerns on a global scale and has the potential to cause significant health problems in the future. Obesity is directly linked to several cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other health diseases. The pictorial messages could serve as a warning for consumers that products might include high levels of fat and salt and could lead to diseases like fatty liver. 

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A Leading Cause For Liver Diseases

Fatty liver in children is a growing concern for the health officials. According to a research study conducted by AIIMS, in a focus group of 220 overweight children, around 62.5 percent of the children were diagnosed as having fatty liver. “We conducted blood tests, ultrasounds and other tests and 62.5 per cent of the children were found to have fatty liver and 65 per cent of the mothers had fatty liver while among the fathers, 69 per cent have fatty liver.” Children with fatty liver are at risk to develop liver cirrhosis and other liver diseases and could lead to liver transplantation when they reach adulthood. 

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Effectiveness Of Campaign

Although the campaign for tobacco-based products with warnings placed on packages has been relatively successful, there are some doubts on whether it would be the same for junk food. Health experts believe that placing pictorial warnings could discourage people from purchasing junk food but effectively eliminating the consumption of junk food could be difficult. Statistics placed India in the top 10 of junk food and fast food consumption and the figures are expected to grow in the coming years. 

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