Foundation for Futuristic Cities, hosts a virtual Roundtable on ‘Cities & Nutrition – Are We Eating Right?’

Foundation for Futuristic Cities, hosts a virtual Roundtable  on ‘Cities & Nutrition – Are We Eating Right?’

Hyderabad, January 13th, 2022: Ms Karuna Gopal, President, Foundation for Futuristic Cities and National Incharge for Policy & Research BJP Women Wing; along with Mr Uday Waghray, Entrepreneur, Thought Leader & Culture Cognoscente; hosted a virtual Roundtable on ‘Cities & Nutrition – Are We Eating Right?’ today. The interaction was conceived based on research finding that ‘Urban India is Overfed yet Malnourished. Ms Karuna Gopal, Mr Uday Waghray, along with eminent professionals like Doctors, Nutritionists, Technocrats, Academicians, Industry Leaders, media representatives and prominent citizens of Hyderabad; shared their thoughts. A few years ago, our Hon’ble Prime Minister announced, ‘The National Nutrition Mission’ (POSHAN Abhiyaan) to address issues of Stunting and Wastage in children and Anemia in Pregnant women and Lactating mothers and the Mission is under progress.

In her introductory speech Ms Karuna Gopal said “The National Nutrition Mission was launched by PM Narendra Modi in 2017 – at that time 47% of children were stunted, 50% of women were anemic and only 49% of women were breastfeeding their babies. Currently the Mission is in progress with several million activities in operation, some of them are providing fortified rice, wheat to lactating mothers and pregnant women, 1000-day program where a child’s brain development is factored in. She added that it’s not just Women & child welfare ministry but several ministries like Housing, Jal Shakti, Panchayat raj & health ministry are on this mission having created ‘inter-ministerial task forces.”

Ms Karuna Gopal said, “What is shocking to know is that a study report published recently showed that malnourishment is higher in cities than in rural areas – essentially it means that citizens are ‘Overfed but Malnourished.’ In economically thriving cities, rich people are choosing wrong foods – moving away from traditional foods to exotic foods & junk, in fact the worst nightmare is seen in slums, where ‘breastfeeding has dramatically come down because women in slums think it’s not ‘fashionable’ to breastfeed or worse still ‘silly ‘, as milk powder is just a hop skip n jump away in the neighborhood medical store. In slums their choices are alarming, they are choosing polished rice over traditional millets, they are eating chips and popcorn more than peanuts and prefer Maggi noodles to Upma or idly. “All of them in slums are chasing exotic food not just the rich & that’s alarming,” she added.

“Today’s generation is all about being cool and updated with rather unhealthy fads including the idea of an aspirational body which is being created within months in gyms. The worst hit is the gym going youth who stuff their bodies with steroids and hormonal cycles, grossly compromising on mental as well as physical well-being. This is in turn promoted heavily by media, films and companies who manufacture these supplements, eating healthy, home cooked food is considered passe, we must create wave of the healthy and wholesome eating habits and make sports a compulsory discipline to be treated on par with other subjects in schools to build character and inculcate life lessons at that formative age, said Mr Uday Waghray.

“Our brains are being neurologically hijacked by fast-food companies”, says Paritosh Sharan, a top 10 in India ranked in 2019, Life and Leadership Coach who combines the best of Eastern philosophy with western scientific approach, OD consultant with more than 30 years of experience. The branding and marketing done to sell these products have a neurological impact that attracts us to consume such products. “This is where food becomes a mere product” The fast-food habits are being adapted especially by children and teenagers, he added.

Mrs Anjana Krishnamurthy, an Educationist, said, when given a choice of instant noodles and an apple, the children’s mind tends to choose noodles over the apple. The rhythm of life has changed adversely and the need for instant gratification has increased. We now sadly, believe in living to eat and not eating to live.

Breaking the myths around so-called nutritional food such as breakfast cereals, Dr Vasuprada Kartic, a psychotherapist, special educator, and Anthroposophic therapist has also highlighted Orthorexia, binge eating disorder, and midnight eating disorders. The party culture, peer pressure, and unhealthy adaptations of modern lifestyle have turned food into a source of comfort.

Dr. Surendra Ugale, Director, Dept of Bariatic and Diabetic Surgery at Kirloskar and Virinchi hospitals and laparoscopic surgeon; said, “In today’s world, stress has become a common part of everyone’s life. How we handle this stress isn’t taught to us. We consider taste appealing and find comfort in unhealthy food practices.” We choose to live in a fast-forward mode, making poor choices and ignoring our ancient wisdom and food practices.

Dr Kavita Waghray, Dean faculty of technology and Head Dept of Food technology, University College of Technology – Osmania University; said, Emphasis on the nutrition of adolescent girls is the need of the hour, as about 40-98% of Indian girls are anemic. Girls in urban areas who have access to good food, arent ready to consume because of various reasons. Skipping their meals is more commonly observed in such cases as girls aren’t aware of the outcome of this practice.

Dr. Lakshmi Lavanya, Endocrinologist, American Institute of Diabetes & Endocrinology; said, the advertisement and marketing techniques of food products have a psychological impact on teenagers particularly. The hype about consuming these products often results in bleak outcomes. Girls who have obesity suffer from PCOD, hair fall, skin pigmentation, liver and heart diseases that lead to other addictions such as drugs, alcohol and smoking. Besides these, they also have body image issues, low self-esteem, and other mental health issues. Peer education and awareness among adolescents can help them deal with such issues in a better manner.

Suresh Chitturi, Chair of International Egg Commission, Vice Chairman, and Managing Director- Srinivasa Farms; said, small steps can be taken to slowly change our habits. Cutting down the white sugar intake, and usage of organic ghee and cold-pressed oils instead of refined oils, including a natural protein-rich diet with regular exercise, are some ways we work towards a better lifestyle.

Obesity is the new health crisis with 135 million people suffering in India alone. With malnutrition, the world should tackle the problem of obesity too. The majority of the victims are adolescents and children due to their poor eating habits. Obesity leads to many other serious health complications such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, etc. Every branch is connected to another one and the solution can be found by digging into the root and treating the entire tree, says, Sudha Nyapati, Nutritionist. Traditional foods have been forgotten and are shamed. We take them for granted because of the wrong perception of western influence. Cooking is viewed as an extra task and a burden by urban adults. Cooking should be re-introduced into our kitchens. It doesn’t mean wastage of time but is an investment towards good health. Energy transformation takes place while we consume and cook food. Hence, it is important to have happy and optimistic thoughts while we cook, she adds.

Somashekar Mulugu, experienced Communications Professional, Skilled in journalism, media relations, corporate communication, and content writing; said, India despite being an agricultural economy, healthy food is accessible to only 1 in every 9. In urban settlements, children are most impacted due to poor nutritional intake. The digital world has become a part of our everyday life. With everyone having access to all kinds of vast data online, the right word we try to spread gets lost. Key communication from credible sources should be used to spread awareness. The planet works itself around rising sun and moon, seasons change according to the position of the earth and all living beings on earth are set with a biological cycle that runs automatically, he added.

Dr Nisheeta Dixit, MBBS, DGO, MPhil; said, Due to lifestyle changes and western influence, the cycle of food and sleep is disturbed, which causes imbalances in our bodies. An effective way to overcome this imbalance is to manage time properly and include basic habits of eating healthy and on time. We should include probiotics, millets, and other nutritional food as they used to consume in ancient days. This food helps in building a strong body and increasing immunity which is very necessary to tackle health crises in the future.

Maumita Sengupta opined, the socio-economic and cultural aspects of a community have a direct impact on their food habits. The white revolution that happened didn’t just subject to dairy products. It was also with the white flour and sugar and bread that was accompanied by the British to India. These products have immensely affected the mindset and perception of people towards authentic Indian food.

Thopali Sriniwas, BJP Telangana Karyakartha, said, labelling of products with the amount of white sugar, fatty acids, and other counterintuitive products should be done to all packaged items so that the consumer is able to distinguish between what is healthy and what isn’t, will make a great amount of change in consumption behavior. Our ancestors have left us an immense amount of knowledge and wealth behind. The responsibility of carrying the culture and practices now fall upon our shoulders.

Amulya Kolan quoted from Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the mental and intellectual development of the body is directly related to the quality and quantity of food we consume. The consumption of sattvic food keeps the body happy, nourished, and balanced, as prescribed by our Ayurveda. When we consume food not fit for body and mind, it is similar to expecting a petrol vehicle run efficiently by filling the tank with diesel.

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