How to get rid of the ‘junk food’ stigma in India
By JANAY HANNAHANANDANABAR, ABS-CBN News staffAUSTRALIA – For decades, the idea of eating junk food in India has been considered disgusting.
But a recent study by the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Sciences shows that Indian people may actually be more willing to consider alternatives.
The study, titled “The prevalence of junk food eating among the Indian population”, looked at how people in different parts of India responded to a survey that asked them how much they were willing to pay for a sandwich or a snack.
“I’m willing to give up the sandwich,” one respondent said, while another person replied: “I’m not willing to eat a sandwich unless I’m absolutely sure that it’s the only thing on the menu,” Dr. Gautam Muthalik, the lead author of the study, told ABC News.
“We’re talking about a very large number of respondents,” he said.
The findings are a clear indication that the Indian people do like to experiment with food and it’s not something they would normally be opposed to, Dr. Mutharik said.
“If it’s a new way of life for them, they’ll probably go along with it.”
Dr. Mushalik said the results were surprising given that India is a relatively poor country, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of just $6 billion, making it the second-most populous country in the world.
But the research showed that the average Indian would not be willing to sacrifice a single meal to satisfy their craving.
The survey asked people to choose between two different types of food.
One of them was a “sandwich” and another was a salad.
“The salad was much less popular in India, so it was quite rare to see a salad,” Dr Muthak said.
A survey by the government’s Food and Nutrition Department shows that the majority of Indian respondents have a high appetite for junk food.
According to the survey, about 60 percent of the Indian respondents said they ate more junk food than the average person.
“This is quite remarkable considering that the population here is much healthier than most Western countries,” Dr Kailash Pangani, a health researcher at the Indian Council for Applied Economic Research, told Reuters news agency.
“In fact, we’re now eating healthier food than most developed countries,” he added.
The data from the survey suggests that Indians are also more likely to take risks and be adventurous.
“When people were asked to pick two foods that they would not want to eat, almost a third said that a snack was the only choice,” Dr Pangania said.
Another way to think about it, the survey showed that Indians prefer to eat healthier than Western countries because it’s easier to maintain healthy weight, Dr Pangsani said.
While there are no figures for how much people in India pay for junk foods, the researchers found that the number of people who reported buying food from supermarkets in India increased from 5.3 percent in 2006 to 11.6 percent in 2017.
This may be because more people in Indian households are opting to buy from the market, Dr Mothalik added.
“There is an expectation in Indian society that junk food is part of our daily routine and we can eat what we want,” he told ABC news.
“However, people here also believe that they are not allowed to consume junk food because of health issues.”