Packed With Fat And Sugar

Roberto A. Ferdman flags some research on children’s lunches:

A new study (pdf) carried out by researchers at Virginia Tech concluded that preschoolers and kindergartners tend to eat healthier lunches when the food is chosen by their school, not their parents. The study, which surveyed more than 1,300 lunches at three schools in Virginia, found that parents frequently pack things like chips, sweets, and sugary drinks—all of which are not allowed under the National School Lunch Program. “I wasn’t expecting there to be such a strong difference between school meals and lunches packed by parents,” said Alisha Farris, one of the study’s authors. “We thought that parents would send lunches that reinforced the sort of healthy habits we hope they are trying to establish at home.”

Parents, it turns out, appear to do just the opposite. More than 60 percent of meals packed at home had one dessert (nearly 20 percent had two or more); just under 60 percent had savory snacks, like chips; and roughly 40 percent had a soda or sugar-added juice. School meals, meanwhile, were more likely to contain fruits, vegetables, naturally sweetened juices, and milk.