The researchers also found considerable room for improvement in school snacks. Goldberg and colleagues found that a typical snack consisted of one or more sugar-sweetened beverages paired with a packaged snack food or dessert.
"Few studies have evaluated snacks from home and our data suggest that classroom-based snacking presents another opportunity for kids to eat and drink high calorie and nutrient-poor foods and beverages," said corresponding author Kristie Hubbard, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., a research associate at the Friedman School.
"Although water was slightly more common than sugar-sweetened beverages at lunchtime, we saw many children with two or three sugary drinks in their lunchboxes," said Hubbard. "Replacing sugary drinks with water the drink recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics - keeps children hydrated without adding extra sugar to their diet."
The current study evaluated one day's worth of lunches and snacks in 12 schools. Goldberg and colleagues acknowledge the need for larger studies of more diverse groups of students over an extended period of time.
This study points to the need to help parents find ways to build nutrition into the packed-lunch routine. The researchers acknowledge that this is a challenge that will require creative approaches to packing lunch boxes with affordable, easy-to-prepare, and healthy options while at the same time creating a demand for these options among children.
|Contact: Andrea Grossman|
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus