Almost 3 in 5 parents believe lunches prepared at home are a healthier option for their children than school dinners, with 6.6million UK school children tucking in to them each day. However, new analysis from Aviva reveals that many packed lunches may contain significant amounts of hidden sugar and unhealthy treats.
- Yoghurt has a typical number of 5 sugar cubes per serving
- Fruit juice also has 5
- A cereal bar has 2
- A typical chocolate bar has 5
Aviva’s Medical Director has come up with four top tips for packing a healthier lunchbox:
- Sneak in the vegetables – Adding vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumber to your child’s sandwich can be a quick and easy way to up your child’s vegetable intake throughout the day.
- Make it wholemeal – White bread can be packed with added sugar, while wholemeal bread comes with nutritional benefits and can keep them fuller for longer. If your child is reluctant to swap to wholemeal, why not make the swap gradual, changing just one of their sandwiches to wholemeal a week as a first step.
- Mix it up – While every child has their favourite fruit or sandwich filling, mixing up the contents of their lunchbox can ensure your child has a varied diet, benefiting from a wide range of vitamins and nutrients. Remember that seasonal and locally sourced produce can often retain more nutrients.
- Count the sugar – Snacks that on the surface may seem healthy and harmless such as fruit juice, smoothies, cereal bars and dried fruits, can be hiding a significant amount of sugar. Keep your child’s sugar intake in check by counting up their sugar consumption throughout the day. The NHS suggests a daily maximum amount of five cubes for four to six year olds, six cubes for seven to 10 year olds and seven cubes for those aged 11+.5