Aug 1, 2017

An appeal to all Bollywood moms

No, I’m not referring to Nirupa Roy, Farida Jalal or Reema Lagoo.

I’m talking about the top heroines of 80s and 90s who are now keeping themselves busy by promoting junk foods for children. Turn on the TV and you’ll see them in food related channels like FoodFood and kids’ targeted channels like Pogo and Cartoon Network - running behind an active child and feeding them some junk or the other.

Here's the list of such Bollywood moms, that I compiled from ads I remembered:
Sonali Bendre - Dr.Oetker Fun Foods
Kajol and Shilpa Shetty - Yakult
Karishma Kapoor - McCain snacks
Juhi Chawla - Kelloggs Chocos
Karishma Kapoor - Kelloggs Chocos
Karishma Kapoor - Danone Flavoured Yoghurt 
Madhuri Dixit - Maggi noodles

(If I have missed out on anyone, do let me know. Will add to this list)

To all those beautiful Bollywood moms, here’s my 3-part appeal:
1. Whatever packaged food you are promoting, please give it to your children and other family members for atleast 3 months BEFORE you do an ad promoting the same
2. Be aware of the ingredients, processing techniques and nutrition facts. Ask the brand to share details on fat, sugar, salt and food additives. If anyone from the common “junta” asks you a question, be prepared to answer that, being the endorser of the product
3. Sign a contract with the public that you can be held accountable for such endorsements IF any health issues crop up among consumers from the food you are promoting

I’m sure there will be a counter-argument that viewers need to be responsible and well informed before they make a purchase decision and not blindly go with the celebrity endorsements. 

How about an epilogue at the end of each ad? 
 “Junk food consumption is subject to health risks. Please read the ingredients list carefully before consuming”

Bollywood moms, we would rather remember you for your fine performances in movies in 80s and 90s, than in such junk food promoting ads. 

I admire Twinkle Khanna for pursuing her writing skills, post her short stint in Bollywood. I haven’t read her books yet but her columns are outright funny and witty. It would be great if other Bollywood moms take inspiration from her and pursue something else other than promoting junk foods.

Anyway, an article I came across recently gave me some relief and I’m hoping atleast some of the recommendations see the light of the day.

Apparently, a 11-member FSSAI panel has come up with a report on "Consumption of Fat, Sugar and Salt (FSS) and its health effects on Indian population”.

Some of their recommendations include
- Additional tax on highly processed commodities and sugar-sweetened beverages
- Advertisement ban for foods high on FSS during children TV shows or kids TV channels (yessss!)
- Celebrity endorsements of such foods need to be discouraged. Online social media websites should also comply with the advertising ban (You hear that, food influencers?)
- Information like total calories, amount of carbohydrates, sugar, fat, protein, sodium, dietary fibre, amount of trans-fat added in food, should be mandatory for labelling in food products


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