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Unhealthy foods in canteens are increasing the risk of NCDs

In most of the organizations canteen found exorbitance of oily, fatty, heavily salted / sugary and highly processed foods. As a result, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity etc. are increasing among students in Bangladesh. We are forced to intake these foods due to lack of public awareness, limited access to healthy food, aggressive promotions and easy availability of unhealthy food. For this reason, it is necessary to emphasize on providing healthy food instead of unhealthy food in the canteens of different institutions including educational institutions, offices and hospitals. Speakers expressed the opinion at a seminar titled “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds: The Importance of Healthy Canteens” organized by Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust and Institute of Wellbeing.

Gouse Pearee, Director of WBB trust chaired in the seminar and M Kazi Emdadul Islam, Deputy Project Director of Field Operation department, LGED; Farida Akhter, Joint convener of Shashtho Andolon; Debra Efroymson, Regional Director of Healthbridge Canada; Rawshan Ara Islam, Regional Commissioner of Bangladesh Girl Guides Association discussed. Tanzim Khan Anik, Student of Brac University presented keynote presentation on research work on “Canteen of Healthy Foods”.

In the discussion, speakers said ‘Fast food, fast food, junk food, soft drinks, energy drinks including energy drinks are served in the canteen of the educational institutions. One of the main causes of non-communicable diseases is unhealthy food habits. These foods are meeting our temporary hunger but also sowing the seeds of long-term diseases in the body. If there is available healthy food in the canteens, people's interest on unhealthy foods will be reduced.  For this reason, at first the continuous supply of healthy food has to be ensured in the canteens of educational institutions, offices and hospitals. Unhealthy food advertisement has to be controlled strongly and emphasis has to be given on advertising healthy food. Every family and primary education institute can play an important role in raising awareness about healthy food habit.