98.4% of school packed lunches are not nutritional enough
The Government is now being urged to put packed lunches at the heart of its childhood obesity agenda
A new survey has found that only 1.6% of children’s lunchboxes are meeting primary school canteen nutrition standards.
Despite large national awareness campaigns for healthier eating, a study has found that parents are still sending their children to school with lunchboxes full of unhealthy junk food.
Research by Leeds University has revealed that around 50% of primary school ages children take a packed lunch into school, but only one-in-five contain any salad or vegetables.
This compares to the 52%-60% that contained too many savour or sweet snacks.
Whilst 42% contained a sugary drink instead of a healthier alternative.
This leads to a high consumption of saturated fats, sugar and salt and not enough intake of vitamins and minerals, the study concluded.
Some improvements were uncovered though, with the majority of packed lunches meeting the required levels of protein and vitamin C.
There was also an improvement in the number of sugary drinks and chocolate based snacks.
The study also found that three out of 300 lunchboxes studied in 12 different primary schools in England scored a zero in nutritional value.
Lead researcher Dr Charlotte Evans has said the data was ‘eye-opening’ and that it has only shown a small improvement from research done a decade ago where 1.1% of packed lunches met the required nutritional standards.
She also stated “Parents struggle, and there are many reasons why children don’t have better quality lunches – cost, peer pressure, convenience, time. Providing information to parents is a start.
“However, we do need to do more than provide information to parents to see a greater impact, such as improving school policies, reformulating products and reducing portions of snacks given to young children. For example, providing a small portion of crisps in a sealed container rather than the full bag.”
Flora, who commissioned the study, is now working with MP Sharon Hodgson.
Hogson chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) of School Food, and will be working with the company to put children's lunchboxes at the heart of the Government's agenda to fight childhood obesity.