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Junk Food, Soft Drinks Becoming ‘Slow Poison’ For Children’s Health In India

The air isn't the only thing that's polluted; even the food you consider healthy contains adulteration.

Edited By : Anurradha Prasad | Updated: Nov 10, 2023 22:48 IST
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The success of any society, and the effectiveness of any system, depends to a large extent on the health of its people, and these days, the greatest threat to people’s health is pollution. It’s often said that if wealth is lost, nothing is lost, if a good companion is lost, a significant loss occurs, but if health is lost, everything is lost. While advancements in medical science and health services have increased the average lifespan of a person, adulteration and pollution are forcing people to take medicines day and night at the mere age of 45.

Neither clean air nor clean water

Just like other expenses in the household, the cost of medicines is also on the rise. Clean air seems luxury, clean water is scarce, and even unadulterated food is becoming rare. Breathing has become a challenge for people living in and around Delhi. The streets appear hazy, and some struggle to breathe, feel a burning sensation in their eyes, and children start coughing as soon as the sun sets. What people consume from morning to evening, whether it’s milk tea, coffee, sweets, or snacks, all of it contains a slow poison that is difficult to see with the naked eye. The things you consume regularly are slowly introducing harmful substances into your body, increasing your difficulties, and reducing your lifespan.

In some areas, the AQI crosses the 500 mark

Nowadays, millions of people in Delhi and its surrounding areas are severely affected. They are wearing masks on the streets. Even in the daytime, the sky doesn’t look clear. The traffic on the roads has slowed down, and people find it challenging to breathe, experience throat irritation, and feel a burning sensation in their eyes, which has become a common occurrence. Every year, winter in Delhi showcases a similar scene. The extent of pollution in the air, measured by the Air Quality Index (AQI), is alarming. AQI between 301 and 400 is considered very poor, and anything above that is highly dangerous for human health. In recent days, some areas in Delhi have crossed an AQI of 500. This indicates how hazardous the air in Delhi has become, and the kind of diseases it is causing.

The transformation of the capital into a gas chamber

If it is said that the capital has turned into a gas chamber, it might not be entirely wrong. According to a report from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, people in Delhi are losing 11.9 years of their lives due to pollution. This means that if someone wants to live to be 80 years old, they might die at the age of 68 due to pollution. Another study claims that 16% of the global population dies prematurely due to pollution. The Lancet Planetary Health Report states that in 2019, nearly 9 million people died worldwide due to pollution, with 2.2 million of them from India.

Adulteration of food items

Now, let’s discuss the issue of adulteration in food items. The air isn’t the only thing that’s polluted; even the food you consider healthy contains adulteration. This can be understood in two ways: external adulteration and slow poisoning incorporated into food due to changes in farming practices. The increased use of fertilizers and pesticides in farming has introduced harmful substances into our food, causing various health issues. According to a study, in 1950-51, Indian farmers used only 7 lakh tons of fertilizers, but this has now increased to 335 lakh tons. A study also suggests that 83% of the country’s chemical fertilizers are used in 292 districts. As the population grows, the use of chemical fertilizers to meet the food demand has increased, resulting in harm to both soil health and human health. People are getting sick due to the adulteration introduced into the food chain.

Counterfeit milk and dairy products are a significant problem, especially during the festival season

Doctors will enumerate several severe diseases caused by adulteration, including cancer. Globalization has brought significant changes to people’s diets, and these days, items like pizza, burgers, pastries, patties, cookies, momos, and chowmein have become children’s favorites. Soft drinks, soda, and energy drinks are always present in people’s refrigerators. Fast food is packed with trans fats, which are highly detrimental to health. Although it makes these foods delicious, it significantly affects the body’s functionality. As a result, children’s weight is rapidly increasing, and people are falling ill more quickly.

The air has not been spared either

Earth, water, fire, air, and space – these five elements form the foundation of the body, the earth, and the entire creation. These very elements continue to play a crucial role in advancing human civilization, promoting a healthy body and a sharp mind. However, in the relentless pursuit of progress, humans have polluted the earth, contaminated water with toxic chemicals, and even failed to leave the air untainted. The sky was not spared either, making it difficult for the sun’s light to shine through directly. In the process of tampering with nature to achieve greater productivity, humans have compromised their own health.

The supersonic pace of development and its side effects on lifestyle have left people in urban areas, including Delhi-NCR, longing for clean air to breathe. The food we consume can either promote health or deteriorate it, depending on the lens through which we view the cycle of life. It raises the question of where to find safe and healthy food when the air is polluted, and our meals are tainted with harmful chemicals, adulterated milk, and contaminated fruits and vegetables. The development pace cannot be reversed, but it is essential to ensure that human life remains healthy instead of becoming weak and sick due to environmental factors.

Preserving the foundation of the entire creation, the five elements, from being desecrated, has become one of the most significant challenges today. Sanitizing nature’s system is the demand of the hour, as human progress cannot come at the cost of polluting the elements that sustain all life.

First published on: Nov 10, 2023 10:48 PM IST

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