Poor School Grades? Blame it on Junk Food
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13 October 2011
By , Rito Paul
Mumbai , India
If you’re child’s been ‘acting up’ of late and his grades have nosedived, we’d suggest you check what he frequently munches on. An expanding waistline is no more the only tell–tale sign of unhealthy eating habits. Food that is low in nutrients and vitamins can affect your mental well–being as well, claim experts.
Dr Harish Shetty, a renowned city–based psychiatrist, said excessive consumption of junk food, especially those high in additives, can lead to low haemoglobin and Vitamin B12 levels as well as iron deficiency. Simply put, it affects the entire psychological make–up.
“Increased restlessness, sadness, bouts of anger, low levels of concentration and even depression can be the result of an insufficiently nutritious diet,” explained Dr Shetty.
He added that 5% of all attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cases are caused due to the over–consumption of additives.
He recounted the case of a schoolboy, who suffered from anxiety attacks and depression, which affected his performance in school. When repeated therapy and counselling sessions didn’t help, a blood test was ordered. It revealed very low levels of Vitamin B12 — so severe that he had to be injected with the vitamin to get the levels up to scratch. Eventually, he recovered and is now completing his dentistry studies.
Don’t dismiss this as a one–off case. Mental illnesses among school and college children are on the rise. And poor eating habits are one of the major contributors. Sure, your kid gets nutritious food at home. But who’s keeping a close eye on school and college canteens? Food there is often extremely low in nutrition, deep–fried and made of stale and unhealthy ingredients.
The Delhi HC had recently come up with a sure–all plan to nip the problem in the bud: a blanket ban on all junk food in schools and colleges. But, Dr Jagmeet Madan, president of the Indian Dietetic Association and dean of the SVT College of Home Science, SNDT Women University, has a different take: ban such food on campus and the kid will get it from outside. “We have to introduce some new healthier options.”
Dr Madan is currently involved in the gathering of data from various canteens across the city to evaluate their nutritional value, based on which she will make recommendations on the kind of food to be made available to school and college students.
And if you’re worried that your child will push that plate of healthier food away, arguing that you must have compromised with taste for health, Rajdeep Kapoor, executive chef of ITC Maratha, sets your mind at ease. Besides, healthy food does not pinch your pockets as well.
“It’s just a general lack of awareness that leads people to think this way,” said Kapoor. “There are simple things you can do to increase the nutrition quotient of the food without compromising on taste. People think using whole grain bread is an expensive proposition. In our country, we have been making atta from grains such as jowar, bajra, ragi for ages. It’s infinitely more nutritious than normal maida because it contains healthy fibres. And it’s cheap to procure as well.”
Invest in a teflon–coated, non–stick pan to reduce the quantity of oil for cooking food. “There is no need to deep fry a vada pav patty. You can just grill it and it won’t be as bad for you. And, the taste will remain just the same,” assured Kapoor.