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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Nov;59(11):1310-6.

Lunchbox contents of Australian school children: room for improvement.

Author information

1
Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia. andrea.sanigorski@deakin.edu.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

In light of the increasing prevalence of obesity in children and the potential of schools as a setting for intervention, we aimed to identify the main foods and beverages consumed at primary school and to determine differences in consumption patterns between children who used the school canteen and those who did not.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional survey of school foods in 1681 5-12 y old children, 2003-2004.

SETTING:

Barwon South-Western region of Victoria, Australia.

RESULTS:

The school food provided an average (+/-s.e.m.) of 3087+/-26 kJ. Bread was the most frequently consumed food and contributed 20% of total energy at school, biscuits 13%, fruit 10%, muesli/fruit bars 8%, packaged snacks 7%, and fruit juice/cordial 6%. About 10% of children used the school canteen and these children obtained more total energy and more energy from cakes, fast foods and soft drink than noncanteen users (P<0.001). In all, 68% of children had fruit in their lunchboxes, however, over 90% of children had energy-dense, micronutrient-poor snacks ('junk food').

CONCLUSIONS:

Fruit intake in primary schools seems reasonably high but could be targeted for further increase as part of promoting a healthy diet. Of concern, however, are the excessive amounts of energy-dense foods in school lunchboxes. These should be considered a priority for health promotion efforts along with reducing the consumption of sweetened drinks. These measures are urgently needed to improve the school-based diets of Australian children and attempt to curb the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity.

PMID:
16034359
DOI:
10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602244
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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