Packed Lunches Measured Against School Meal Criteria

British youths' packed lunches were low in fruit and vegetables and high in confectionery snacks
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Lunches that British children bring to school from home typically fall short of the standards for meals that schools provide, according to research published online Jan. 20 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Charlotte E.L. Evans, of the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,294 children, aged 8 to 9 years, from 89 schools. Researchers assessed the contents of each child's packed lunch, as well as the amount of food the children didn't consume.

The researchers found that lunches were most likely to contain sandwiches, sweets, savory snacks such as potato chips, and sweetened drinks. More than half, 54 percent, had fruit, but of the foods in the lunches, fruit was the least likely to actually be eaten. Just one percent met all the standards for school meals. Fewer than half of the children met the standards for calories, saturated fat, or sodium.

"In conclusion, few packed lunches met the school meal standards. Children were provided with packed lunches low in fruit and vegetables, although most included a sandwich. The majority of packed lunches included savory snacks, confectionery, or both," the authors conclude.

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