Nutrition Week: ‘Salt Literacy Campaign’ in Chandigarh schools

The initiative was launched in collaboration with Chandigarh Commission for Child Rights (CCPCR) and the Post-Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research (PGIMER)

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New Delhi: In order to spread awareness and sensitize school children and their families on the harmful effects of excess salt in our diet, The George Institute for Global Health (TGI), along with the Chandigarh Commission for Child Rights (CCPCR) and the Post-Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has launched a salt reduction campaign called the ‘Salt Literacy Campaign’ in schools of Chandigarh. Launched to coincide with the National Nutrition Week from September 1 to 7, 2017, the pilot advocacy project will roll out in eight schools of Chandigarh and take the message of consuming less salt to school children.

The campaign was flagged off in Government Model High School, Sector 38-D and will be spread across the rest of the schools during the week. Another sensitisation session was held at Government Model High School, Sector 42-B, Chandigarh. The sensitisation session comprised of a pictorial presentation on the harmful effects of salt consumption followed by group activities using theatre, skit, poster-making and debate.

Mr B L Sharma, IAS, Secretary, Education, Chandigarh Administration was the Chief Guest and Bibi Harjinder Kaur, Chairperson, CCPCR was the Guest of Honour at the function. Others present on the occasion included Dr Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director, The George Institute for Global Health, Dr Rajesh Kumar, Dean, PGIMER and Dr Manmeet Kaur, Additional Professor, Health Promotion, PGIMER.

A pictorial module on salt literacy and a brochure on the campaign was launched on the occasion by the organisers.

Speaking about the initiative, Dr Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director, The George Institute for Global Health said, “With this initiative, we aim to increase the knowledge of the harmful effects of salt among school children. We hope to bring about a behaviour change among the kids and indirectly also change the attitudes and behaviour of parents towards consumption of salt.”

While launching the initiative, Mr B L Sharma, IAS, Secretary, Education, Chandigarh Administration said, “The campaign was very relevant for today’s times when one-fourth of the population below 30 years is having high blood pressure. Welcoming the campaign, he said that there was a need to educate children on the need for taking good diet and   follow a good lifestyle  for achieving good health.”

During the launch, Dr Rajesh Kumar, Dean, PGIMER and Dr Manmeet Kaur, Additional Professor, Health Promotion, PGIMER said, “ Salt is an important component of food but over-consumption of salt leads to raised blood pressure which causes various chronic diseases  like cardio-vascular disease, stroke, etc. Treatment cost is very high and therefore preventing the onset of chronic diseases is important. That is the reason we are launching this campaign to educate school children about the dangers of consuming more salt.”

Salt Campaign-GIGH2As part of the ‘National Nutrition Week’, the team will visit eight public schools in Chandigarh and in each school, students from 6th, 7th & 8th standard will be taught about the various aspects of consuming salt and its ill-effects.

At the launch, Bibi Harjinder Kaur, Chairperson, CCPCR said, that the campaign was part of the Commission’s effort to spread awareness on nutrition among school children. As a child rights body, we are committed to upholding the rights of children and in that context she said that eating less salt will help children inculcate a healthy lifestyle and avoid diseases in the future.

Dr Manmeet Kaur, Additional Professor, Health Promotion, PGIMER, while presenting the NNW Salt literacy campaign plan said, “_that the aim of the campaign was to increase the knowledge of salt among school children and also acquaint them with practical measures to reduce salt consumption.  The campaign module, she said, was evidence-based and has been developed based on similar experience of the George Institute in China. The campaign will help children to take the message to their families”.

Basis the results and the response of the pilot project, the collaborative group will scale it up and put together a one-year intervention programme for salt reduction among school children in Chandigarh.

Excess intake of sodium has been a major contributor to the rising incidence of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases in India. Salt consumption in India is much more than the WHO recommended 5 mg/day levels and reduction in the consumption of salt requires a multi-stakeholder effort. Realizing that salt reduction in India requires a multi-stakeholder effort.  Early this year in February, the George Institute organised a salt summit in New Delhi. One of the recommendations that emerged from the summit was to tackle the unhealthy eating practices through a healthy diet and nutrition campaign that looks at health in a continuum and takes into account emerging data relating to excessive use of salt and hypertension among children.