Comparison of packed school lunches of boys and girls in primary schools in East London
MetadataShow full item record
Objective: To determine the contribution of packed school lunches to the daily food intake of girls and boys in two Primary Schools in East London. Methods: The study was conducted among 199 girls and boys aged 9-13 years. Three 24-Hour recalls and a Food Frequency Questionnaire were completed during an interview with the participants to gather data on dietary patterns over a period of three consecutive days. Additionally, the contents of one lunch box per participant were recorded and weighed. Anthropometrics and socio-demographics were also completed during the interview. Results: The three 24-Hour Recall nutrient measurements revealed a low energy intake in 91 percent for the girls and 77 percent for the boys who were consuming below the recommended Estimated Energy Requirement for energy. The lunchboxes contributed one-third of the daily nutrient intake of the children. The 24-Hour recall revealed an energy-dense, carbohydrate-based diet. The contribution of total fat (30-32%) to the total energy is higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of 15-30 percent. The daily fruit and vegetable intake (215.1g and 216.9g), according to the 24-Hour recall and lunchbox analysis respectively, was insufficient compared to the WHO-recommendation of >400g /day. Although the mean intake of most of the nutrients was sufficient, a large number of the participants did not meet requirements for the age group. The risk of overweight was high (24% for girls and 29.2% for boys) with 1.5 percent falling into the obese category. Conclusion: The results of the study indicated a high-fat and carbohydrate intake and a very low fruit and vegetable intake. The girl participants had better food choices for the lunchboxes but the majority of the participant’s daily intake did not meet the basic requirements of a balanced diet. The risk of overweight in the age category is an increasing problem among low- and high-income countries. Nutritional education should concentrate on healthy food choices in school lunchboxes as a large part of the day is spent at school.