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J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018 Aug;118(8):1417-1424. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2017.11.008. Epub 2018 Mar 1.

Contribution of Beverage Selection to the Dietary Quality of the Packed Lunches Eaten by Preschool-Aged Children.



Sweet drinks early in life could predispose to lifelong consumption, and the beverage industry does not clearly define fruit drinks as part of the sweet drink category.


To ascertain the relationship between beverage selection and dietary quality of the lunches packed for preschool-aged children evaluated using the Healthy Eating Index-2010.


Foods packed by parents (n=607) were observed at 30 early care and education centers on two nonconsecutive days. Three-level regression models were used to examine the dietary quality of lunches by beverage selection and the dietary quality of the lunch controlling for the nutrient composition of the beverage by removing it from the analysis.


Fruit drinks were included in 25% of parent-packed lunches, followed by 100% fruit juice (14%), milk (14%), and flavored milk (3.7%). Lunches with plain milk had the highest Healthy Eating Index-2010 scores (59.3) followed by lunches with 100% fruit juice (56.9) and flavored milk (53.2). Lunches with fruit drinks had the lowest Healthy Eating Index-2010 scores at 48.6. After excluding the nutrient content of the beverage, the significant difference between lunches containing milk and flavored milk persisted (+5.5), whereas the difference between fruit drinks and 100% fruit juice did not.


Dietary quality is associated with the type of beverage packed and these differences hold when the lunch is analyzed without the nutrient content of the beverage included.


Dietary quality; Lunch; Parents; Preschool; Sugary drinks

[Available on 2019-08-01]

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