Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Kababs, samosas, laddu and sharbat are irresistible, but scientists are not clear about their real nutritional value and the impact they have on one's health. Indian foods are a gourmet’s delight, and many of them, specially the “take-away” category, cause severe health issues including obesity and type 2 diabetes

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Kababs, samosas, laddu and sharbat are
irresistible, but scientists are not clear about their real
nutritional value and the impact they have on one's health. Indian
foods are a gourmet’s delight, and many of them, specially the
“take-away” category, cause severe health issues including obesity and
type 2 diabetes.

For the first time ever a team of international scientists is
collecting data on Indian take-away meals and food products including
kababs, beverages and soft drinks to obtain new information about
their nutritional composition. The data will help researchers to plan
ideal meals for a healthy and disease-free living. Many types of foods
particularly fast foods are responsible for premature death and
disability and chronic diseases. Foods from other major countries
including China, the USA and Canada will also form part of the study.

The George Institute for Global Health, Australia, is coordinating the
research on fast foods around the world including India. “Sustained
small-to-moderate improvements in the food supply would reap
significant public health gains and avert much premature chronic
diseases. With the rates of non-communicable diseases such as obesity,
type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases increasing, there is a
strong argument for renewed efforts to achieve population-wide
reductions in sodium, saturated fat, sugar and energy consumption,”
points out senior researcher Elizabeth Dunford.

The study will help in comparing the nutrient composition of various
“take away” foods, which are notorious for their “dense energy”, high
saturated fat and salt and lack of essential micronutrients.

The Indian food stuff to be covered under the international study
include fruit and vegetable juices, pure fruit smoothies, milkshakes,
milk-based drinks like lassi, plain and flavoured waters, soft drinks,
sugar-free artificially-sweetened soft drinks, tea and coffee,  hot
breakfasts, deserts and grilled chicken.

Most of the fast food items sold in India do not carry the nutritional
value or the ingredients used for the preparation. The nutritional
content and calorie values differ hugely even for the same variety of
food served by different restaurants or fast food joints. This is
because they do not follow uniform standards and the calorie value
changes between two servings in a same restaurant. The new research
study will not only identify the nutritional values of the Indian fast
foods, but also help in devising uniform standards for servings.

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