The saying, "Health is wealth", until now seems to be free of any sort of controversy. This saying is one of those basic lessons that the children are taught at the beginning of their education life. But still, in reality, students do not seem to be abiding by what they learn.
Students, in general, are victims of ill-health caused mainly by improper diet, untimely and irregular eating habit or by unhygienic food, either by their circumstances or by their own voluntary actions.
The common trend among students these days is not to carry food from home to schools for consumption during the break period, but to ask for money from parents so that they can buy food according to their choice. Some schools have canteens of their own, but most schools cannot maintain a canteen. Such schools have contracts with outside shops that supply them food during break periods. The third case is where students buy food from various fast food shops outside the school premises.
Jamil, a class nine student of an English medium school, says, "I usually buy food from outside with my pocket money." When asked about carrying tiffin from home, he said, "I don't like bringing food from home and I told my mom about that."
Jamil's friend Abeer, whose case is similar to that of Jamil's, said in response to a question that during the breaks he played football.
For a better health, both mental and physical, it is very essential for students to have a proper routine of when and what to eat. In the case of students like Jamil and his friend, it can be seen that in the entire five hours of school they are not having any healthy food and after the school hours they are going for junk foods. Moreover, when inquired about what they usually have in their breakfast, it was found out that their meal in the morning was a meagre one, according to their own will, the reason being that they do not like home- made food.
Farhan, a senior student of a reputed Bangla medium school, says, "I have working parents and both my mother and father have to leave for office early in the morning. My school is in the day-shift, and so, after getting dressed up, I go to a nearby fast food shop for breakfast. Then I go to school." In reply to further queries, he said, "My next meal time is around 5:30 pm after I come home." In the time in between, he remains without food.
Food habit of students remains a major cause of concern today mainly because of the fact that most fast food shops and restaurants do not provide us with fresh food of good quality. The recent drive by the government has unveiled the reasons why people, including students, are suffering from jaundice, diarrhea, etc. Moreover, untimely eating, as in case of the students stated above, results in is digestion problems and ulcer.
Another major issue to look into concerns with the hawkers selling ice-creams, jhalmuri, amra, etc, at the school gates. Most ice-creams, as we have seen recently in the television, are made with chemical dyes and other harmful chemicals. And amra, the fruit usually peeled, cut and sold in front of the schools should be consumed after carefully thinking about the water being used to wash it and what sort of salt or mustard has been spread on it. Jhalmuri, as always, remains a harmful food as the quality and the preparation process of the chanachur, and the oil used are questionable.
In the past few years, we have witnessed the setting up of numerous fast-food shops all over the capital. A glance at the Swiss, a famous hangout place situated in city's Baily Road, in the afternoon would reveal boys and girls in uniforms enjoying snacks. Such scenes of students rushing in to book the limited seats are common at Dhanmondi, in the places bearing popular names like Helvetia, Boomers and Western Grill. Gulshan, and Banani are no exception to this. All over the city fast food shops are mushrooming. They are aiming at drawing customers, especially the students and teenagers, to them.
Education is an investment for the future. But health is no less important an issue. In the growing age, students require healthy diets, and those also on time, to develop them into healthy human beings.
Jawaharlal Nehru, in a letter to her daughter Indira Priyadarshini, once said, "What can we do, however stout-hearted we may be, if our bodies fail us?"
So, health is a vital issue in need of proper addressing in the life of a student. Without good health, no matter how intelligent and courageous we are, we may not make it to our goals and our dreams may remain unfulfilled.
Thus students should take good care of their health and do what is good for their health. The balanced growth of the students will benefit them as well as the nation in its march forward.
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