Government Mandates Healthy Food In Medical College Canteens

In a progressive move toward promoting healthier lifestyles among students, the Indian government has directed prestigious medical colleges, including AIIMS, PGIMER, JIPMER, and other Institutes of National Importance (INIs), to revamp their canteens. The directive, issued on January 1 by Dr Atul Goel, Director General of Health Services (DGHS), urges these institutions to replace the prevalent unhealthy high-fat diets and sugary beverages with more nutritious alternatives. This proactive step aligns with the government's broader agenda to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that contribute significantly to the country's mortality rate. 

As per reports, Dr. Goel emphasizes the need for a collective effort in addressing the non-communicable disease burden, estimating that approximately 63% of all deaths in the country result from such diseases. Cardiovascular diseases, leading the grim statistics at 27%, are closely followed by chronic respiratory diseases (11%), cancers (9%), diabetes (3%), and other conditions (13%). The DGHS identifies unhealthy diets, fast food, and sugary beverages as major culprits contributing to the escalating burden of NCDs. 

In his letter to medical colleges, Dr. Goel advocates the adoption of healthier alternatives, emphasizing the significance of seemingly small initiatives in making an exponential difference to the health of society and the nation at large. The suggested alternatives include fresh fruits, vegetables, millet, and whole grains, aiming to create an environment that nurtures wholesome dietary choices. 

A few months ago, the DGHS made a similar call, asking medical associations to make it illegal for people to drink alcohol at medical conferences. The rationale behind this move was the well-established link between alcohol use and various diseases and injuries, encompassing conditions such as liver cirrhosis, cancers, and hemorrhagic strokes. 

As a result of the government's efforts to change the food options in medical college canteens, people are becoming more aware of how important institutions are in shaping students' life choices. By standing firm against the widespread impact of unhealthy food choices, the government hopes to create a healthier generation of doctors and, in turn, a healthier country. As medical colleges start this life-changing process, the initiative not only addresses pressing health issues, but it also shows other institutions how to put the health of their students and staff first.