Packed school lunches may not meet dietary guidelines
A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and DieteticsÂ shows that packed lunches that children bring from home may be missing the vegetables, milk, and other healthy items recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The researchers examined the lunchbox contents of 626 third and fourth graders who attended 12 public elementary schools in Eastern Massachusetts. About 48% of the students in the study brought lunches from home. The most common lunch items were sandwiches, which were found in 59% of lunches. About 34% of lunches contained fruit and 11% had vegetables. Roughly 42% of lunches had snack items and 28% included dessert. For beverages, 28% of lunches included water, 24% included sugar-sweetened drinks, and 3% included milk. Another 11% of kids planned to buy milk at school.
The researchers found that only 27% of the lunches met at least three of the five National School Lunch Program standards from the federal government, which include fruit, vegetables, grains, meat or another protein source, and milk. In addition, almost 25% of the lunches lacked an entree, such as a sandwich or leftovers.
It should be noted that the study itself isn’t comprehensive enough to formulate specific recommendations.