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Kids' Lunch Boxes Often Fall Short on Nutrition
Date:8/1/2014

By
HealthDay Reporter

THURDAY, July 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A home-packed lunch isn't necessarily healthier than school cafeteria fare, a new study suggests.

The new research found that just 27 percent of the lunches third and fourth graders brought from home met three of five National School Lunch Program (NSLP) standards.

"Our findings are similar to results of other studies of children's packed lunches from across the world, which have found that high-calorie packaged foods and beverages are more common than fruits, vegetables and dairy," said Kristie Hubbard, a research associate at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.

A quarter of the lunches did not have a primary entree, such as a sandwich or leftovers, and most of these lacked yogurt, cheese, peanut butter or another protein instead of an entree. Only a third of the packed lunches included fruit, and 11 percent included vegetables, yet a quarter included sugar-sweetened beverages.

Among the 42 percent of lunches with snack foods, the most common packaged foods were chips, cookies and candy, Hubbard said.

The typical snack brought for snack time was a sugar-sweetened beverage and a snack food or dessert. Only 30 percent of snacks were fruits, and only 10 percent included dairy foods.

"Perhaps people should not be so quick to judge school lunches because this is worse," said Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "What students are bringing from home is not better than what's being offered in schools."

Approximately four out of 10 youngsters bring their lunches to school instead of buying school cafeteria meals, according to t
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