Nutrient content of different types of lunchtime meal, and their contribution towards the overall daily nutrient intakes of 11-14-year-old schoolchildren from two schools in Scotland
Norris, C. (2010) Nutrient content of different types of lunchtime meal, and their contribution towards the overall daily nutrient intakes of 11-14-year-old schoolchildren from two schools in Scotland, no. 360.
Introduction Due to concern regarding the quality and health implications of schoolchildren's diets, large amounts of funding have been invested into improving school canteen lunches. However, children may also have packed lunches, or 'street' lunches (those purchased outside school). This study was undertaken to ascertain whether canteen lunches are nutritionally superior to packed and street lunches, the contribution of the lunch types towards total nutritional intake, and whether children who eat nutritionally poor lunches compensate with food consumed at other times. Method During 2007 and 2008, dietary intake data was collected from 332 children aged 11 - 14, from two secondary schools in Fife, Scotland. Using 5-day estimated intake food diaries, data from 1,532 days was collected. Nutrient intake and density for 9 nutrients (plus fruit/vegetables) included in the Scottish Nutrient Standards for School Meals (2003) were compared with the Scottish Nutrient Standards for School Lunches (for lunchtimes) and Dietary Reference Values (for the whole day). Comparisons were undertaken between canteen, packed and street lunches, and between days including them. Results Many children 'flitted' between canteen, packed and street lunches on different days. Some children also consumed food from more than one lunch type on a single day. Dietary quality was poor; intakes of non starch polysaccharide, iron, and fruit and vegetables (at lunchtime and over the whole day) were of particular concern. When canteen lunches were consumed, the diet was closest to guidelines. However, many dietary targets remained unmet. When street lunches were consumed, the diet was furthest from the guidelines. This was the case both at lunchtime and over the whole day. There was some compensation for poor lunchtime nutrient intake by foods eaten at other times during the day. However, this was not as great as noted by previous studies, and many significant differences between the lunch types existed at the end of the day. Conclusion Due to the superior nutritional quality of canteen lunches compared with the other options available, and the contribution of canteen lunches towards overall nutrient intake, children should be encouraged to have canteen lunches.
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