Packed lunch for preschoolers lacks adequate nutrients

January 10th, 2009 - 12:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 10 (IANS) Nearly 13 million children eat three or more meals and snacks daily at the 117,000 regulated child-care centres across the US. Mounting cost of food preparation and storage have prompted more of these centres to insist on parents providing food for their children.

But lunches sent from home may not provide adequate nutrients for the growth and their development, according to a University of Texas Austin study and Third Coast Research and Development in Texas.

The study comprised 74 three-to five-year-olds attending full-time childcare centres that required parents to provide lunches. Contents of the lunches were recorded for three consecutive days.

Researchers found more than half the lunches provided less than the required calories, carbohydrates, vitamin A, calcium, iron and zinc and 96 percent of such meals had even less than minimum recommended amounts of dietary fibre, except sodium.

When asked if lunch provides an important opportunity for their children to receive nutrients, all the 97 parents agreed. But 63 percent admitted packing items their child was known to eat.

The researchers concluded that parents don’t know how to pack nutritious lunch for children, said a Texas release.

“When parents do not consistently pack a nutritious lunch they miss an opportunity to teach and reinforce good dietary habits to their children,” the researchers said.

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