Project Dhoop seeks to promote sunlight as a natural source of Vitamin D for children. Schools urged to shift ‘Morning Assembly’ to ‘Noon Assembly’ – the best time for students to soak in sunlight for natural absorption for Vitamin D.

New Delhi, April 09, 2018: 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.’

Micronutrients including vitamins are needed by people in only very small amounts, but these are the “magic wands” that enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development. As tiny as the amounts are, the consequences of their absence are very severe. Vitamin A, D, B12, Iron, Folic Acid and Iodine, are the most important; their lack represents a major threat to the health and development of populations the world over, particularly children and pregnant women in countries like India.

For Vitamin D, fish and fish products are the only real food sources. For most Indians, Vitamin D is mainly obtained by exposure to sunlight without which deficiency is likely to occur. Sunlight’s action on cholesterol in the skin converts the cholesterol to Vitamin D via additional conversions in the liver and kidneys. Many factors can contribute to Vitamin D deficiency such as overuse of sun screen, wearing clothes that cover most of the skin, working inside all day in air-conditioned atmosphere etc.

Most parts of India receive abundant sunshine all the year through. Yet shockingly, studies have found that more than 90% of boys and girls across various Indian cities are deficient in Vitamin D. In Delhi alone, 90-97% of school children (aged 6-17 years) have Vitamin D Deficiency and around 10-11% of these children exhibit signs of Vitamin D Deficiency.

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 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.