This is why children’s packed lunches lack nutritional quality


From healthy sandwiches to salads, we tend to pack everything nutritious for school tiffin box of our kids. But it is disheartening to know that according to a latest research, fewer than two in every 100 packed lunches eaten by children in primary schools meet nutritional standards. Yes, you read it right and the this has been brought into light by the researchers from University of Leeds, who conducted a major survey in UK and found that the lack of fresh food is to blame.

This study underlines the role that parents, carers, the government and the food industry have in ensuring children eat more healthily. During the research, it was found that on some fronts, packed lunches have improved but they are still dominated by sweet and savoury snack food and sugary drinks. The vast majority provide poor nutritional quality. The research report has duly stressed that the issue over the next 10 years will require a concerted effort.

For the findings, published in the journal BMJ Open, the research compared the nutritional quality of packed lunches brought into a sample of primary schools in 2006 and then in 2016. The results revealed how the nutritional quality of lunchboxes has changed over 10 years.

It is estimated that more than half of primary school children take a packed lunch to school.

Over the 10-year period, the researchers found that many children did not have any dairy foods in their lunch, and meals did not meet the recommended standard for calcium.

There was a reduction in the number of packed lunches meeting the standards for vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc.

According to the study, there was no reduction in saturated fats. There was no reduction in the portion size of crisps.

The researchers said the food industry has not focused on reducing the size of savoury snacks in the same way it has on sweet snacks. Although the amount of sugary food in lunchboxes declined over ten years it is still higher than recommended.

The researchers investigated whether packed lunches met the food standards that apply to cooked meals in England’s schools. Since 2006, eight standards have been introduced for cooked school lunches. Confectionery, savoury snacks and sweetened drinks are restricted while vegetables, protein and dairy have to be included in each meal.

The researchers found that the percentage of packed lunches meeting all eight food standards was very small, increasing slightly from 1.1 per cent in 2006 to 1.6 per cent over ten years. The concluding lines of the research says that improving what children eat at school will only help reduce the risk of childhood obesity.

Inputs from IANS

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