Why are we concerned about the content of children’s packed lunches?

About half of all school children take a packed lunch to school rather than eating food prepared at school. In some Local Authorities children have no option but to have a packed lunch. Recent reports, however, have shown that the food typically eaten in lunchboxes provides too much fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt - and not enough fruits and vegetables and essential nutrients.

The packed lunch represents approximately a third of the child’s daily food intake and therefore it is important that it offers a meal in line with the Eatwell food profile to ensure that all the nutrients needed are provided.

What is in a typical lunchbox?

About 70% of children’s lunchboxes contain crisps, cheese products, chocolate bars and biscuits and only half of all lunchboxes contain a fruit or vegetable - with very few containing both. In almost a fifth of lunchboxes there is no starchy food such as sandwiches, pasta, rice or an equivalent and therefore lacking healthy starchy foods. Many packed lunches contain soft drinks, increasing the sugar content of the packed lunch.

(Shepherds Bush Healthy Living Centre)