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Packaged food health risks for children

Published : Sunday, 25 July, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 467
Zakir Azad

Children and adolescents across the country are now suffering from various diseases by consuming packaged food and soft drinks. The children who are the future leaders of the nation need a balanced, free and safe environment to become sharp-witted, talented and capable.

Although children and adolescents have a relatively safe environment with their parents and family, they are often deprived of quality controlled food.  As a result, most children and adolescents are suffering from various diseases. And junk food, fast food, packaged food, soft drinks etc. are responsible for these diseases. Feeding canned milk instead of breast milk due to unawareness of parents or family members and lack of proper basic knowledge about balanced diet finally put children at severe health risks.

Many of us eat outside food to show our modernity and busyness with high tech life.  Again, there are many working parents who cannot provide home-made food due to lack of time to their children.  They have to eat outside foods some of which are not safe for health at all.

According to doctors, junk food, packaged foods and soft drinks can cause at least 12 diseases in children.  Some of which could be life threatening.  This type of food can cause type 2 diabetes, heart disease, basal pressure, hypertension, abdominal pain, liver problems, hepatitis allergies, attention deficit disorder.  This hinders the physical and mental development of the child.  There may be anorexia in the baby's food.  

In this regard, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Professor ABM Abdullah said, Consumption of more than a certain amount of caffeine in the name of soft drinks can lead to various diseases.  High doses of caffeine can lead to nervousness, mental illness, brain damage, mood swings, anxiety, muscle cramps, insomnia, headaches and shortness of breath.  Those who are accustomed to eating these foods should understand that they are putting the child's health at serious risk.

Although there is a law for safe food, due to lack of its implementation, standard of food value is not maintained to some extent.  Some foods are contaminated with germs and parasites. The quality and safety of food has to be ensured everywhere in the process of food preparation and serving before grain intake, harvesting condition, processing, packaging.  But a mixture of dyes, artificial flavours, condensed sugar and saccharin used in fabrics is being used to make adulterated food products including various juices and jellies.  And the main consumers of these products are children.  This puts them at serious health risk.  

Energy drinks of different names are being sold all over the country including the capital in different coloured labels.  Garish advertisements tempt ordinary people, especially teenagers, to buy those.  A number of companies are illegally marketing these drinks without the approval of the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI).  And baby buyers are drinking without knowing it.  As a result, they are suffering from various diseases.  Ice cream is attractive to school-going children and teenagers.  As a result, school-going students are suffering from various ailments including stomach ailments and pneumonia.

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Commerce, 75 percent of the total sugar is used in the country for making soft drinks, ice cream, chocolate and other sweet foods.  In addition, hundreds of tons of beef and chicken are being used every day in fast food shops including fried chicken.  These foods, which are deep-fried and highly salty, have a lot of health risks. Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Bangladesh Diabetic Hospital, Dr.  Sonia Tahmima said, "these foods do not contain any ingredients of balanced diet. These are always a threat to children's health."

The world is moving fast. The quality of every product in the modern world is now controlled with utmost care.  But kind of dishonest traders of our country are cheating the common people by disobeying the law by producing and marketing inferior products.  Considering the issue of health crisis, Bangladesh is ranked 102nd in the food index prepared by the International Relief and Development Organization (UNFAM) for 125 countries of the world.  We have to get out of this situation.  Efforts to eradicate malnutrition through governmental and non-governmental organizations need to be accelerated.  Parents must play a leading role in ensuring the child's well-being and physical and mental development.
The writer is a journalist,

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