British children eat 5.5bn packed lunches each year, but research from the University of Leeds shows that only 1% of their lunchboxes meet the tough nutritional standards that have been set for their classmates on school meals.
About half of all children in England take a packed lunch to school. In the first study of its kind, the Leeds research team, commissioned by the government’s food watchdog, the Food Standards Agency, found that 82% of their lunchboxes contained foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar, with items chosen by parents including crisps, sweets and biscuits.
Only one in five packed lunches contained any vegetables or salad and about half included an item of fruit – yet in the overwhelming majority of cases, even these fell well below the standards demanded of school dinners.
The findings were described as “appalling” by children’s health campaigners, who want all children to be given free, nutritious school meals.
Source: University of Leeds
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