U.S. kids' brown bag lunches full of fat, salt, sugar

October 28, 2002 in Nutrition Topics in the News

U.S. kids' brown bag lunches full of fat, salt, sugar

A survey of lunches fourth graders bring from home reveals that the most common foods contain high levels of fat, calories, sugar and sodium. The vast majority of the lunches contained potato chips or sweets, and only 2 out of 147 lunches included vegetables.

The research was conducted at Fontbonne University, also in St. Louis. Early eating patterns could have long-lasting effects. If children are eating like this now, and learning these habits, they are more likely to continue eating like this through adulthood.

During the study, the authors examined 147 home-packed lunches of fourth-graders on 3 separate days. Most of the lunches contained sweets, chips and deli meat sandwiches on white bread. Around one third of the home-packed meals contained fruit, and only 2 included a vegetable. On 15 occasions, the children bought milk to go along with their meal, half of which was chocolate-flavored.

In terms of why kids don't bring healthier lunches to school, the researchers stated that parents may feel they don't have the time to prepare something nutritious, relying instead on pre-packaged foods such as chips, juice boxes--which are often no more than sugar water--and sweets. In addition, kids may experience peer pressure to eat certain foods, and to refuse healthier choices such as fruits and vegetables.

But if parents want their children to learn healthy eating habits, they may need to tell their child that one treat is fine, but a lunch full of treats is not.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.