In spite of increasing awareness about the benefits of fruits and vegetables, people tend to overlook their importance in the diet. A study conducted by experts from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and School Food Trust has revealed that many parents who fail to include fruits and vegetables in the lunchboxes of children are missing out on key aspects of health.
The report states that nearly 40% of primary school children’s lunchboxes and 10% of canteen meals are devoid of fruits and vegetables and thus, not adequately nutritious. WCRF has also launched an online game called My Packed Lunch that plans to tackle this issue. The gameplay involves making packed lunches enjoyable for children and also constitutes an interactive meal planner that provides ideas to children and parents about foodstuffs that are delicious as well as healthy.
“Our own research in schools has found that packed lunches aren’t as nutritious as school meals – they are typically higher in saturated fat, sugar and salt, and often contain foods that school menus simply don’t offer if they want to help their pupils eat a balanced diet, like sweets and crisps. That’s why we always urge parents and pupils to give school meals a try,” commented nutritionist Patricia Mucavele.
Further, Mucavale added that school meals aren’t just good for children’s health as eating a better lunch is also good for children’s concentration in class, and “for their learning about trying new foods and what it means to eat a balanced diet.” What’s more school meals could also save parents precious time as the scientists have estimated that parents could spend almost eight days a year in the kitchen if they wish to prepare packed lunches that adhere to the same nutritional standards as school meals.
Also, the analysts disclose that parents are tired of knowing what is not healthy, they wish to know what is healthy instead. As per this survey, healthier lunch and drinks were consumed on a larger scale by kids who opted for school lunch rather than packed lunch. Moreover, the items included in the packed lunches are often forbidden by the school norms for meals. Students who eat packed lunches often consume more of sausages, meat pies, pastries and drinks that apparently elevate the blood sugar levels.
The authors urge parents to pack their children’s lunchboxes with at least 2 parts of fruits and vegetables. The team also suggests parents to try their hand at school meals.