India’s G20 presidency highlights the importance of national and international priorities, including food security, nutrition, healthcare, and sustainable development, especially for children and adolescents. The New Delhi declaration underscores these commitments.
Nutritional Choices in Adolescence
Childhood and adolescence are critical phases where nutritional choices shape lifelong health. India faces a surge in overweight, obesity, and non-communicable diseases among children. Addressing this issue has become urgent.
The 5As Shaping Our Food Environment
The food environment is influenced by Availability, Accessibility, Affordability, Acceptability, and Accommodation of healthier food options. Efforts to address poor food choices among adolescents are underway through the ‘Let’sFixOurFood’ campaign.
The Role of Nutrition Literacy
Empowering adolescents with nutrition literacy is crucial. Nutrition literacy means understanding and applying nutritional information. It is the cornerstone for the success of measures to improve food environments.
Changing Dietary Landscape
India’s traditional diet, rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, is shifting towards processed foods high in sugars and unhealthy fats. Adolescents are influenced by advertising, marketing, and peer pressure, driving these dietary transitions.
Empowering Adolescents for Lifelong Health
Investing in healthier eating habits during adolescence can shape future health. Around one-fifth of India’s population is adolescents, making it vital to equip them with nutritional knowledge and skills.
Integrating Nutrition Literacy
Adding nutrition to the school curriculum is a proposed solution. However, traditional academic syllabi alone are insufficient. Nutrition literacy should focus on skills rather than just knowledge.
Three Essential Nutrition Skills
1. Distinguishing Healthy and Unhealthy Foods: Adolescents should understand nutrition basics, diversify their diets, and evaluate food choices critically.
2. Choosing Local and Nutritious Foods: Encouraging adolescents to explore nutritious, locally sourced foods promotes health and sustainability.
3. Reading Food Labels: Reading and understanding food labels is crucial. Adolescents can easily pick up this life skill, empowering them to make informed food choices.
The Basis of Success
Nutrition literacy is the foundation of success for any policy or regulatory measure. While advocating for stricter regulations on unhealthy foods, empowering adolescents with essential nutrition skills is crucial. This is the first step towards creating a healthier food environment for current and future generations.