Celebrities should not be allowed to advertise junk food given the rising number of diabetic and obese people in the country, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) suggested on the eve of World Health Day.
"India needs to take measures to limit consumption of junk food. It should be integral to government's plan to contain diet-related NCDs. A set of comprehensive measures are required.
"It should regulate marketing of foods, drastically improve-upon existing labelling norms, limit availability of junk foods in schools and run public awareness campaigns," said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General at CSE.
The body said that this year's World Health Day with the theme 'beat diabetes' is very significant for a country like India as it has over 60 million people suffering from diabetes.
"The food industry should not be allowed to aggressively target our children. No celebrity should be allowed to advertise soft drinks, chocolates, noodles etc. Broadcast of food advertisements should be prohibited on programmes that are watched by children.
"No such company should be allowed to sponsor events at schools. No junk food should available in or around schools. Mandatory government controls are required as successfully done in other parts of the world," said Bhushan.
CSE said that the most prevalent form of diabetes is Type 2, which is a diet-related non-communicable disease (NCD) along with hypertension, heart disease and certain cancers.
Excess consumption of unhealthy junk foods specifically among children is strongly linked with growing prevalence of obesity and NCDs, it said.
"These foods are ultra-processed and are high in salt, sugar, fats. They lack fibre, vitamins and minerals and contain chemical additives. Such foods include carbonated soft drinks, chocolates and other confectionary, ice-creams, instant noodles, pizza and burger from fast food outlets," it said.
Obesity is near epidemic now and is a severe problem with children and diabetes is prevalent like never before and Indians are being affected by it at a much younger age than people in other parts of the world.