In order to address rising incidence of Vitamin ‘D’ Deficiencies (VDD), particularly amongst the young people, FSSAI has launched a unique initiative, ‘Project Dhoop’ in association with NCERT, NDMC, and North MCD Schools. Supported by Kwality and conceptualized by McCann Health, Project Dhoop is a unique initiative that urges schools to shift their morning assembly to noon time mainly between 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to ensure maximum absorption of Vitamin D in students through natural sunlight.’
At the launch event of Project Dhoop at National Bal Bhavan, New Delhi, Mr. Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI said, “Despite the fact that most children suffer from Vitamin D deficiency in India, most of us are not aware of its serious consequences. FSSAI has always endeavored to educate the community about such pressing issues. Project Dhoop’s Noon Assembly is an innovative and effective concept to ensure that school students get adequate Vitamin D through sunlight, while also opting to choose food products like milk and edible oils that are fortified with Vitamins A and D. He pointed out that opting for fortified foods (with +F symbol) is a simple and inexpensive way to address micronutrient deficiencies without any radical change in behavior or eating patterns. He pointed out that “both fortified milk and fortified edible oil are now readily available across the country.”
Speaking at the launch event, Retired Major General Dr. R K Marwaha, Scientific Advisor and Senior Consultant endocrinology said, “Human body needs adequate Vitamin D to make its bones strong and other systemic functions of the body. Nearly 90% of body’s Vitamin D requirement is met by adequate exposure to sunlight and only 10% is met through diet. Contrary to popular belief that morning sunshine is best for our bones, it is actually the sunshine from 11 AM to 1 PM that is most beneficial in increasing Vitamin D levels in a human body because of best UVB radiations. Interestingly, 40-60% of the adult bone mass is accumulated during childhood. Hence, it is very important that children are exposed to sunshine for stronger bones and immune system.”
He suggested that “If the school uniforms are designed such that both forearms and face are exposed to sunlight easily, this would be equivalent to 12% of body surface area. Hence, by the simple act of shifting morning assembly in our schools to noon assembly and careful designing of school uniforms, a large percentage of student’s Vitamin D requirement will be met.”
Mr. Naval Sharma, President and Head of Business Transformation, Kwality stated that recognizing the vital role of Vitamin D in our diets; Kwality has fortified many of its milk and milk products with Vitamin D and other essential nutrients. We are proud to support FSSAI’s +F fortified logo on our products and be a part of Project Dhoop Initiative.
Sh. Ashish Bahuguna, Chairperson, FSSAI pointed out that “The launch of Project Dhoop this year on the occasion of World Health Day is very timely. He hoped that this would spread awareness about Vitamin D and encourage exposure to sunlight by people across the country.”
The launch event concluded with a formation of the ‘+F’ logo by the participating students and school children imbibing information about Vitamin D, measures to increase Vitamin D intake through natural sunlight as well as urging their guardians to opt for fortified food. The event saw the participation of about 600 school-children from schools in the National Capital Region of Delhi including the NDMC, North MCD, and private schools. The school children were ingrained with the concept of healthy nutrition, food fortification, and importance of Vitamin D through entertaining skits involving health mascots of FSSAI, songs and dance performances.