• New survey shows over 60% of citizens in Pune, India, want unhealthy street food banned
  • Pune citizens call for radical action from policy makers to make healthier diets the easier option, with nearly 70% asking for fruit and vegetables to be more affordable
  • Takeaway food delivered to the home is on the rise: 72% of people in Pune have used an online delivery platform at least once in the last week
  • Unhealthy food products are popular, with 34% of citizens having eaten fried snacks in the last week and 25% having had fast food, but only 14% having eaten fruit
  • The concept of healthy food is well understood by citizens in Pune: almost 100% identified fruits and dal as healthy, and over 90% knew boiled eggs were a healthy food

Monday 16th December 2019 – A new survey carried out in Pune, India, shows that citizens are finding their food environment increasingly unhealthy. More than 60% agreed that unhealthy street food should be banned, and 70% wanted fruit and vegetables to be more affordable.

The sample survey was conducted with over 3,000 adults in Pune by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) auxilliary nurses, and was led by the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics. It explored eating habits and understandings of healthy diets among people in Pune, as well as gathering citizens’ views on how policy makers in the city should make it easier for everyone to eat well.

Having takeaway food delivered to the home proved to be extremely popular. On average, Pune citizens use online delivery platforms to order food 1.6 times a week, with 61% using them one-three times a week and 11% using them four-10 times weekly.

Unhealthy food products are widely consumed by citizens when they eat out of the home. Over the last week:

  • 39% had drunk sweet beverages (e.g. tea and coffee with high sugar content)
  • 34% had eaten fried snacks such as wadapavs and samosas
  • 25% had eaten Indian fast food (for example missals, pav bhajis or Indian Chinese)
  • And only 14% had eaten fruit (or drunk fruit juice).

For low socioeconomic groups price is the most important driver for food choice, with healthy options being the fourth most significant consideration. For high socio-economic groups, price doesn’t feature at all in the top four drivers of food choice, which are healthy options, quality, taste and brand. Whether food is organic or not is the least important factor for all groups.

When asked how policy makers could make healthy diets more accessible and affordable, Pune citizens called for bold action to shape a healthier food environment in the city:

  • 61% want unhealthy street food to be banned.
  • 69% want fruit and vegetables to be more affordable
  • 72% want more healthy eating in school curriculums
  • 66% want tastier Anganwadi Centre take home rations
  • 59% want more promotions of healthy street food.

The Gokhale Institute’s survey was undertaken as part of the Birmingham India Nutrition Initiative (BINDI). BINDI is a learning partnership between Birmingham City Council, UK, and Pune Municipal Corporation, India, facilitated by the Food Foundation. It involves the development of policies and practices as part of the ‘Food Smart City’ initiative. Birmingham and Pune have a common ambition to seize opportunities to support safer, healthier and more sustainable city food environments which prevent malnutrition in all its forms (overweight, obesity, micronutrient deficiencies and undernutrition). The focus of the partnership is on policies regarding food prepared out of the home – to encourage the food which is available and promoted is safe, nutritious, affordable and procured in a manner which supports environmental sustainability and local economic development.

Birmingham City Council has developed a parallel survey that is currently running online to gather learnings about citizens’ out of home eating behaviours in Birmingham.

Saurabh Rao, Municipal Commissioner, Pune Municipal Corporation, said: “The Birmingham India Nutrition Initiative involves the development of policies and practices through a learning partnership between Pune and Birmingham, UK, with a view to both cities becoming Nutrition Smart Cities. The goal of this initiative is tackling all forms of malnutrition and encouraging healthy food habits. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is taking several initiatives to enhance the awareness about the importance of nutrition to the citizens and support to live healthy lives. We will be reviewing the findings of this survey and using it to form our policies going forward. I would like to thank the citizens who actively participated and provided thoughtful suggestions. We believe this initiative is in line with PMC step to ensure sustainable food systems and improved nutrition in the city.”

Anna Taylor, Executive Director of the Food Foundation, said: “We know that poor diets are the biggest cause of premature death globally. India is one of the world’s largest countries and a huge growing economy: its cities will be no exception, but we know very little about how citizens are eating. Policy makers can be highly effective in tackling diet-related illness if they intervene early before the issue becomes unmanageable, and this survey demonstrates that Indian cities have the chance to get ahead of the curve. Overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes rates and associated health inequalities have reached crisis point in the UK, but Pune could lead the way if officials act now, and Britain could learn from the solutions that emerge in India.”

Councillor Paulette Hamilton, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Birmingham City Council, said: “Working with Pune is an important global partnership for Birmingham. Our work together is helping both cities to create healthier food systems to make it easier for people to grow, buy, cook and eat food in a healthier and more sustainable way. We have learnt from Pune’s survey to develop our Birmingham Food Conversation survey and by working in parallel we can start to understand the international context of food beliefs and behaviours. We know that many of our citizens have friends and family in India, and vice versa, and by working together we can better understand how this could be influencing people’s beliefs and behaviours as well as sharing between the cities technical and programme approaches to create healthier food systems in our cities.”

Notes to Editor 

Please contact:
Pandora Haydon – 07789 712608 / [email protected]

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About the Food Foundation

The Food Foundation is an independent organisation working to influence food policy and business practice, shaping a sustainable food system which makes healthy diets affordable and accessible for all. We work in partnership with researchers, campaigners, community bodies, industry, investors, government and citizens to galvanise the UK’s diverse agents of change, using surprising and inventive ideas to drive fundamental shifts in our food system. These efforts are based on the continual re-evaluation of opportunities for action, building and synthesising strong evidence, convening powerful coalitions, harnessing citizens’ voices and delivering impactful communications.

About the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics

Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, established in 1930 by the Servants of India Society, is the oldest research and training institute in Economics in the country. It is dedicated to research into the socio-economic dimensions of the Indian society, and carries forward the legacy of Gopal Krishna Gokhale who founded the Servants of India Society in 1905 with a view to promote education and develop capabilities among Indians for the governance of the nation after it had attained its political independence. The Institute is registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, and the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950. Over the decades, the Institute has established strong credentials in empirical and analytical research. In recognition of its contribution to higher learning and research in Economics, the Institute was awarded the status of institution Deemed to be University, in 1993.


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