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Parents commit not to give unhealthy food to their children

Although Bangladesh has succeeded in controlling communicable diseases, it is lagging far behind in controlling non-communicable diseases. Non-communicable diseases account for 67% of all deaths in the country. Behavioral changes, such as healthy diet, regular and adequate physical activity, avoiding harmful drugs and tobacco products, etc., can play a significant role in controlling non-communicable diseases. To prevent children and adolescents from consuming unhealthy diet and smoking, effective measures should be taken to stop the advertisement of these products. Besides, to motivate people to walk to short distances and to school, it is necessary to create a safe and convenientwalking environment. AstraZeneca, Dhaka Ideal Cadet School and Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust jointly organized a sharing meeting with parents of students from Dhaka Ideal Cadet School at the organization's conference room titled 'Walk to School to Control Non-communicable diseases’ on 6 December 2021 at 11.00 am and speakers opined such in the meeting.

Speakers at the meeting said that non-communicable diseases are on the rise due to lack of supply and high price of healthy food, lack of environment for exercise and walking, lack of open public spaces and playground, availability of packaged food and tobacco products. To overcome this condition, it is important to avoid consume soft drinks, fast food, junk food, packaged foods, and tobacco products. Besides it is necessary to create a habit of walking to short distances and to school, walking or exercising for at least 30 minutes every day, creating opportunities for children to play and ride bicycles, above all behavioral change and increased awareness at the individual level is a must.

The speakers also said that at present children and teenagers are obsessed with eating fast food and junk food. One of the reasons behind this is the attractive packaging, advertising, and availability of these foods. It is necessary to take initiative to stop the advertisement and availability of such products by the relevant stakeholders.Especially it is important to completely ban the availability of unhealthy food, soft drinks, and tobacco products in the surrounding areas of the schools. Walk to school is an easy way to meet the need of physical exercise of students. Thus, the local government should take initiatives to control the speed of vehicles, build and maintain adequate quality footpaths, zebra crossings and stop illegal parking to ensure a safe environment for walking to school. Both healthy eating habits and walk to school can play an effective role to control non-communicable diseases.

Parents pointed out various problems related to their children's walking to school and unhealthy eating habits. In the end, they promised to give the children home-cooked food instead of unhealthy food.

The meeting was presided over by GaousPearee, Director of Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust and was moderated by Senior Project Officer Ziaur Rahman. Naima Akter, Project Officer presented the keynote paper. Other speakers of the program were SyedaAnonna Rahman, Program Manager, Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust and MA Mannan Monir, Headmaster of Dhaka Ideal Cadet School. Teachers and parents of Dhaka Ideal Cadet School were also present in the program.