Q.1-10. Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below it. Certain words have been printed in bold to help you locate them while answering some questions.
One of the first declarations of the newly elected government in June was a proposal to ban unhealthy or junk food (defined as food high on fat, sugar and salt) in school canteens across the country. This was followed up with an increase in the prices of soft drinks in the recent budget.
This has been part of a long-standing demand of child rights activists, nutritionists and public health experts to discourage the availability of fast food and other food items containing unhealthy ingredients. This includes a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea in the Delhi High Court demanding a ban on junk food and carbonated drinks in schools and on their sale within a radius of 500 yards.
There is no disagreement among health and nutrition experts that the ‘developed’ world is in the grip of an obesity epidemic and ‘developing’ countries like India are fast following suit. The
World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that more than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese in 2012 If left unchecked, this figure would rise to 70 million by 2015
While underweight continues to be a crucial problem in terms of burden of disease in developing countries, obesity is fast catching up and can hardly be ignored. In developing countries, the prevalence of childhood obesity in preschool children is in excess of 30 per cent. Thus, countries like India carry the ‘double burden’ of high levels of malnutrition caused by food insecurity and growing levels of obesity caused by diets high in sugar, oil and salt along with sedentary lifestyle.
Obese children experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular diseases, insulin resistance and psychological effects, and the resultant non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, strokes and heart disease are already contributing significantly to adult mortality. What is critical is that in countries like India, it diverts family resources from nutritious food to the empty calories of highly processed foods.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), effective population-based childhood obesity prevention strategies include restrictions on marketing of unhealthy food (biscuits and potato chips, for instance) and non-alcoholic beverages (soft/carbonated drinks) to children.
Further, the issue of conflict of interest in allowing the junk food industry to participate in policy-making has been continuously raised by civil society, and partially addressed by WHO in its documents. The WHO states that “concerns have been raised regarding the influence of for-profit companies — particularly from the food industry — on the priorities of obesity prevention interventions and the selection of strategies.”
There have been numerous reports of conflict of interest related to the presence of big-food giants in decision making bodies of Pan American Health Organisation (an office related to WHO); Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, comprising governments, civil society, the United Nations, donors, businesses and scientists; and GAIN (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition) which statedly supports market-based solutions for malnutrition and partners with UNICEF on numerous projects. Many of these relationships have been subsequently sanitised as a result of public protest.
On its part, the Indian government has stayed fairly clear from such associations and is not currently a part of the SUN Alliance. In fact, it made a statement at the recent World Health Assembly on the agenda item related to engaging with non-state actors, cautioning about indirect funding from the processed food industry.
The mention of ready-to-eat foods, it is feared, leaves the door open for food industries to step up their attempts to capture the large potential market of the public food schemes (mid-day meals and food delivered through the anganwadis).
Public pressure had resulted in the removal of stringent standards for micronutrient content of the food to be served to children from Schedule II of the Act. This was on the grounds that while quality standards are required and desirable, village women or self-help groups cooking/preparing these meals would not be able to demonstrate these standards since labelling and testing would not be available to them. A case was also made that additional micronutrient requirements are being met through national programmes run by the Ministry of Health, such as the Vitamin A and Iron supplementation programmes, and we need not meddle with the entire process of food production and distribution to meet these requirements. However, these stringent standards have been brought back through the draft rules that have been put up recently by the Ministry for Women and Child Development.
The problem of junk and processed, packaged food in India is reaching dramatic proportions with every tiny village shop laden with packets of potato chips and namkeen and carbonated drinks. Junk food is far cheaper and more immediately filling than the high quality protein and micronutrient sources. Any practitioner with field experience would know that biscuits are used as the commonest complementary food in slums and suburban areas since they are convenient for working women to hand out to children through the day.
It behoves the government to recognise conflicts of interest, eschew these ‘partnerships’ and focus on stringent regulation and accountability instead of validating junk food companies by accepting their money and proudly proclaiming them as allies. Similarly, a visible public-policy support is required for the public food programmes that clearly favour the use of fresh, culturally appropriate food with sufficiency and diversity, using local resources.
If we allow the dangerous global trends towards unhealthy, processed and packaged foods to overwhelm the food culture in India, the direct and indirect public cost is likely to be enormous. Let us choose to save our children while we still have the chance
Q.1. The author has expressed negative consequences of which of the following, in the passage?
(1) Interaction of parents with the children
(2) Changing habits of children
(3) Processed and packaged food
(4) The rising inflation level in India
(5) Diverse food choices in India
Q.2. Why is India said to have been carrying the ‘double burden’?
(1) The food in India is expensive yet more and more children are becoming obese
(2) It has to deal with the problems of malnutrition and obesity at the same time.
(3) Indian food has less demand as compared to processed food provided by international food giants.
(4) Only 1 and 3
(5) Not mentioned in the passage
Q.3. What is meant by ‘indirect public cost’ as mentioned in the passage?
(1) The overhead expenses borne by the individuals to buy food
(2) The government aid provided to ensure availability of food
(3) The price paid for food in terms of taxes
(4) The health related problems caused by consuming junk food.
(5) All of the above
Q.4. Why do people prefer junk food to the food made locally?
(1) It is not expensive and satiates hunger immediately.
(2) Junk food is delivered at home whereas this facility is not available with most of locally-made food.
(3) Junk food has the aroma that attracts most of the people.
(4) Locally made food is considered unhygienic.
(5) Not mentioned in the passage
Q.5. Which of the following is/are TRUE in the context of the passage?
A. Ready-to-eat food industrycould capture the large potential market of the public food schemes.
B. The Indian government has willingly become a part of the SUN Alliance
C. Child rights activists, nutritionists and public health experts have been raising their voice against fast food and other food items containing unhealthy ingredients.
D. Carbonated drinks are said to have high nutritional value.
(1) Only B (2) Only A and C (3) Only B and D (4) All except A (5) All except D
Q.126. Which of the following is/are public food schemes?
A. Meals delivered at restaurants
B. Food delivered through anganwadis
C. Mid day meals
D. Meals provided by canteens of government offices
(1) Only C (2) Only A and B (3) Only A and C (4) Only B and C (5) All of the above
Q.7-8.Choose the word most SIMILAR in meaning to the word printed in bold, as used in the passage.
(1) Bothers (2) Castigates (3) Provokes (4) Promises (5) Obligates
(1) Stabilize (2) Discourage (3) Demonstrate (4) Promote (5) Boggle
Q.9-10. Choose the word which is most nearly the OPPOSITE in meaning as the word printed in bold as used in the passage.
(1) Lavish (2) Official (3) Social (4) Active (5) Inspirational
(1) Capability (2) Quality (3) Scarcity (4) Worth (5) Transparency