Packed lunches revealed as one of the reasons for obesity in children

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We all know how difficult it is finding interesting, healthy and still tasty packed lunch ideas for your little ones, but new studies show that the current norm for a packed lunch is putting one in five children under the obese bracket.

As a nation addicted to sugar, with unhealthy options more accessible and cheaper than ever, it's hard not to fall into the routine of packing your child's lunch box with some sugary snacks – especially as they'll kick up a fuss otherwise!

But these seemingly harmless small treats and classic packed lunch foods are doing a lot more damage than you might realise. According to The Child's Food Trust, a normal school lunch could be serving up more than a six-year-old's daily sugar allowance. In fact, a huge study has gone into the shopping behaviours of parents to find out some of the classic packed lunch combinations - and it's not good news.

The most common items were bread and margarine, followed by a healthy option of fresh fruit - but that's where the good news ends. In the top 20 most popular lunch box items, crisps came 12th, sugary drinks 13th and cake 17th. Shockingly, just one serving of the most common sugary fruit-flavoured juice gives your child six times their sugar intake for the whole day.

We have a whole host of packed lunch ideas for your little ones, that are health and tasty too!

Linda Cregan, chief executive of The Children's Food Trust, said: 'One in five children starting school is overweight or obese... for parents it's never been more difficult to get children to eat well, in our society which has made it easiest and cheapest to choose less healthy options during the weekly shop'.

Jo Nicholas, nutritionist at The Children's Trust, told the Mirror that rules should be put in place to ban chocolate bars and sugary items from school packed lunches. Jo thinks there are numerous options that could help, such as 'fewer price promotions on less healthy lunchbox products; taking sweets off checkouts; cutting sugar, salt and saturated fat in products for children. Let's create a level playing field at every school – no crisps, sweets, sugary drinks or sweet cereal bars allowed in packed lunches, just as the rules already say for school lunch menus'.

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Would you like to see restrictions on what parents can pack in their child's lunch box, or is hard enough to get a full lunch box together as it is? Comment below!

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Hugh McGivern

Great piece on the never ending story of obesity and how to get around it. In my experience packed meals tend to be a last minute affair chucking in pre-packed crisps and snacks with an ad-hoc sandwich. Food education in the 21st Century should be high on the agenda of every parent, starting with them. If children were taught to make food exciting and as demanding of fresh food as they are of junk food we could have a start. Breakfast clubs, after school clubs and included within the curriculum followed by asking parents to attend fun evenings in schools to make fresh food ( even have a cheeky glass of Chardonnay) if it's done well it can create extra revenue, excitement and create a better relationship. As a passionate Chef I find it quite upsetting when you see kids throwing tantrums because they can't have a McD's, when you teach a child to make a better version at home for themselves/family/friends the apprentice becomes the master. The government must release money for chefs to come to schools to teach and educate. I taught the homeless at St Mungos for 6 years to cook and they are without doubt one of the most difficult audiences...... It can be done.

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