A schoolchild's lunchbox can contain up to 14 teaspoons of sugar, research has found - the equivalent of three days' worth under NHS guidelines. Even
A schoolchild’s lunchbox can contain up to 14 teaspoons of sugar, research has found – the equivalent of three days’ worth under NHS guidelines.
Even healthy-looking snacks like yoghurt and fruit smoothies can be so crammed with glucose fructose and sucrose parents should think twice about pairing certain products – and read nutrition labelling carefully.
Some popular items if eaten together would contain three days’ worth of sugar.
It comes after an official warning from medical professionals that four in ten children will be overweight, or even obese, by the time they leave primary school at the age of 10 or 11 by the year 2024.
A single pot of Munch Bunch Double Up Fromage Frais Strawberry & Vanilla has 10.7g of sugar
A little sugar-and-chocolate hit from a curlywurly actually had a massive 13 grammes of sugar
NHS guidelines say those aged four to six years old should consume no more than 19g of sugar a day.
But research by the Sun newspaper shows some snack and drink combination can add up to 57g of sugfar – nearly three times the recommended daily allowance.
A pack of Sunny Raisin Yoghurt contains 15.3g, while a Cadbury Curly Wurly chocolate bar is loaded with 13g.
A Munch Bunch Double Up Fromage Frais Strawberry & Vanilla has 10.7g, and an Innocent Kids’ Smoothie packs 18g.
Louise Payne, of School Health UK, warned excess sugar fuels ‘obesity, Type-2 diabetes and tooth decay’.
Sunny Raisin said its product is an ideal ‘occasional treat’. Nestle said its Munch Bunch is a ‘source of calcium, protein and Vitamin D’.
Innocent Drinks said ‘fruit contains sugar, so our drinks do too’.
Cadbury said it plans to bring its kids’ products under 100 calories.
They may be fruit-based but Sunny Raisin yoghurt-coated raisins contains 15.3g or sugar
Fruit contains fructose so fruit drinks do as well – this Innocent kids’ smoothie has 18g of sugar
A 2018 survey found parents’ top priority – with 38 per cent saying it was most important – is sending their children to school with a lunch they are sure the child will eat.
Only 28 per cent of parents say making sure a lunchbox is nutritious is their main concern.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR CHILD’S LUNCHBOX HEALTHIER
Action for Children experts say there is ‘no need’ for a child’s lunchbox to contain chocolate, sweets, crisps or other unhealthy snacks.
And the most popular things to put in a lunchbox are ham sandwiches, yoghurts, crisps, apples and cartons of juice.
The charity gives recommendations for swaps you can make to make your child’s lunch to make it healthier:
- Swap juice for water or milk. Or choose a low sugar drink or dilute fruit juice 50/50.
- Give your sandwiches or wraps different fillings: cooked chicken, turkey, egg, tuna, low fat cream cheese are all good options.
- Ditch the crisps for chopped vegetables and a tasty low-fat dip like hummus.
- When you’re shopping, choose the lower salt bread options stocked by most supermarkets.
- Use spreads and condiments sparingly and choose lower salt versions.
- Don’t pack a sandwich every day. Think salads with pasta, potato, couscous with vegetables and some protein like chicken. Other things to think about include boiled eggs or omelettes.
Source: Action for Children
Emma Horne, Action for Children’s director for England South said: ‘Most parents understand the pressure to pack a lunchbox that will come home empty at the end of the day.
‘And it makes things even harder when you’re time-poor and budget conscious.
‘But it’s clear that childhood obesity is a problem we need to tackle, to save our children from suffering physical and mental health problems when they grow up.
‘Getting eating habits right in these early years isn’t as daunting as it seems with the help of a few clear tips, and it can make a lifetime of difference.’
More than 130,000 children in the UK are obese before they leave primary school, figures revealed in May.
In 2017 around 170,000 primary school leavers were overweight to some degree, according to the National Child Measurement Programme.
Some 22,646 of those were considered to be severely obese.
Obesity costs the NHS over £6bn a year and makes people more likely to die from cancer, stroke or heart disease.
Public health nutritionist Mari Clark, said: ‘Through no fault of their own, many parents simply don’t know exactly what their child needs.
‘This isn’t helped by confusing packaging that has pictures full of fruit and happy children, when the products inside are packed with sugar and fat and salt.
‘There is no need for any lunchbox to contain crisps, sweets, processed food, cereal bars, chocolates and things like that.
‘If you have sandwich with some good quality protein, a portion of fruit, veg and dairy then that’s enough.’
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU BE PUTTING IN YOUR CHILD’S LUNCH?
The Children’s Food Trust has come up with the following food cheats to help children have an enjoyable but healthy lunchbox.
Instead of chocolate bars or cereal bars, pack lower-sugar alternatives like scones, malt loaf, fruit bread, plain popcorn or fruit in sugar-free jelly.
Avoid processed fruit snacks, choose fresh fruit or plain dried fruit.
Switching biscuits for rice cakes is a recommendation by the Children’s Food Trust
Instead of crisps, try plain rice cakes, oat cakes or breadsticks with cheese or unsalted nuts (check nut policies in schools first).
Get children involved in choosing and preparing what goes into their lunchbox, to help encourage them to eat it.
Pre-prepared fruit and veg are generally more expensive than doing it yourself, so get some small pots and prep them yourself to cut the cost.
Using leftovers as part of packed lunches is a good way to cut down the prep time, but make it’s cooled and stored properly.
Make sure that what you pack is easy for little fingers to open, and to eat.
Children often love a bit of DIY – wraps and pots of fillings can be more exciting if they get to put them together.
Dipping foods rule for many kids, so give breadsticks or toast fingers, veg sticks and a pot of houmous or our fabulous fish pate a try.
Source: The Children’s Food Trust