After banning the sale of carbonated drinks in school cafeterias, the Punjab Food Authority is reportedly planning to restrict the sale of such beverages to underage children across the province. PFA Director General Noorul Amin Mengal said that these beverages are not good for the physical and mental health of growing children. The authority will issue guidelines to the food outlets to not provide underage children with carbonated drinks.
According to the approved guidelines, food has been placed in three categories — red, yellow and green. The red category includes food and drinks that should not be available at school canteens, such as carbonated drinks, most canned items, and sweets, toffees, candies, and chocolate.
The adverse effects of carbonated drinks have been proven scientifically, with reports suggesting that approximately 200,000 people die every year due to the use of sugary drinks that cause diabetes and heart problems. The risks are even graver when it comes to children as concerns like dental health, hyperactivity, addiction and weight gain have been reported by the doctors.
Pakistan is among the countries with an acute stunted growth problem, with Punjab faring worst of all the provinces. While the authority is right in banning the sale to children under the age of 18, a multifaceted approach is required to implement it.
Firstly, along with restricting the sale of carbonated beverages and other harmful products to the underage children, there is a need to disseminate the information of the adverse effects of their use. If people are not aware of the reason behind such a ban, it is unlikely that people will pay much heed to the issue. Secondly, and perhaps most important is the implementation of the regulations. Similar restrictions on the sale of products such as cigarettes are already in place but have not been implemented properly. Therefore, the PFA must ensure that if it is issuing guidelines on carbonated drinks, it also disseminates the information widely using the media and other resources available at its disposal. *