Page last updated at 18:50 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

What's in a healthy lunchbox?

Healthy and unhealthy lunchboxes

Ninety-nine out of every 100 packed lunches being eaten by primary school children are reported to be unhealthy and failing to meet nutritional standards.

So what should a healthy lunch contain and what foods should be left out?

Food pie chart

According to advice from the Food Standards Agency,a healthy packed lunch should include:

• Meat, fish or a dairy source of protein

• Starchy carbohydrate, such as a wholegrain sandwich, to provide energy

• At least one portion each of a fruit and vegetable or salad

• Water or milk to drink, but diluted fruit juice and yoghurt drinks or smoothies are acceptable

The key foods to avoid are:

• Sweets and chocolate

• Snacks, like crisps, with added salt/sugar/fat

• Sugary and fizzy drinks

• Deep-fried foods and processed meats

• White bread - if children won't eat brown, try whole white sliced bread

Sugar: 15g sugar per 100g is high in sugar, 5g or less is low
Fat: 20g fat per 100g is high in fat, 3g or less is low
Salt: 1.5g salt per 100g is high in salt, 0.3g or less is low
Source: Food Standards Agency

Nutritional standards for school meals were introduced in 2006 and standards for vending machines, breakfast clubs and tuck shops came into force a year later.

In 2008, strict nutrition content guidelines for primary schools were introduced and extended to secondary schools in September 2009.

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They include maximum/minimum levels of energy or calories and 13 different nutrients, including fat, salt and sugars.

The Schools Food Trust - an independent body set up to advise schools on healthy eating - says there are no plans to issue statutory guidance on packed lunches, but it has produced some sample lunchbox menus.

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