Packed lunches typically fail health grade

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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A recent study found the lunches most kids bring to school are not meeting the recommended dietary guidelines. They're often missing fruits, vegetables, and other healthy items.

"A lot of these kids are bringing more snack-type foods. They're bringing sugar-sweetened beverages. Most of them don't even have an entrée in there, so they're just really piecing parts together. A lot of the processed foods that are easy to pack, but not necessarily healthy and nutritious to fuel your kids throughout the day," said Jennifer Willoughby, a pediatric registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic's Children.

Willoughby says researchers at Tufts University studied the lunchbox contents of more than 600 third and fourth graders. They found that only 27 percent of them met at least three of the five national school lunch program standards from the federal government. They include: fruit, vegetables, grains, meat or another protein source and milk.

Researchers concede that the findings aren't comprehensive enough to formulate specific recommendations, but hope parents can provide a healthy-balance for their children. Willoughby agrees.

"Put at least a few options in there that you know is going to fuel them because when you're just putting these snack packs in, pretzels, chips, all of the easy, convenient foods they may enjoy it, but they're going to crash partially through the day and it's really going to hinder them in school," Willoughby said.

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