Parents Giving Children Unhealthy Packed Lunches: Research

Parents giving children unhealthy packed lunches: Research

ISLAMABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 12th Augst,2016) : Packed lunches are filled with crisps, sweets and sugary drinks instead of vegetables, fruit and milk, the study found. If the nutritional standards set for school meals were applied to packed lunches only one per cent would comply, the researchers from University of Leeds found. All the children took a packed lunch to school on at least one day of the week, and almost nine out of 10 ate a packed lunch every day, The telegraph reported. Sandwiches, sweets, savoury snacks and artificially sweetened drinks were the most common items found in lunch boxes. Foods that would be allowed in schools meals were the least likely to be provided in lunch boxes with only one in ten children having sandwiches with vegetables in them and a further one in ten being given a portion of vegetables. Contents of the lunch boxes were recorded before and after the meal so researchers could discover what foods the child ate and which they left. The children were most likely to eat the confectionary and least likely to eat the fruit.

More than a quarter of children had a lunch box that contained sweets, savoury snacks such as crisps and a sugary drink. Another quarter had a similar lunch box without a sugary drink and fewer than one in ten had lunch boxes with none of these items. Less than half of the lunch boxes had foods with sufficient levels of vitamin A, folate, iron and zinc. On average, girls tended to be given, and eat more, healthy foodstuffs than boys, and children at schools with fewer pupils eligible for free school meals had healthier packed lunches. Ms Charlotte Evans, of Nutritional Epidemiology Group, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Leeds, said: "One per cent of children's packed lunches met all the food- based school meal standards for school meals in England, evidence that the quality of food in children's packed lunches is poor. "This is partly due to the fact that packed lunches, by definition, only contain foods that can be packed for the day.