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A cross-sectional assessment of food- and nutrient-based standards applied to British schoolchildren’s packed lunches

  • Charlotte EL Evans (a1) and Janet E Cade (a1)

Abstract

Objective

In England, standards for school meals included both foods and nutrients until 2015. School policies for packed lunches are generally food based; research is needed to determine whether these are adequate or whether a small number of nutrients would potentially improve their quality.

Design

From dietary data obtained using a weighed dietary assessment tool, a diet quality score (DQS) for packed lunches was calculated using the number of standards met out of twenty-one (eight foods and thirteen nutrients). Multilevel regression analysis determined the foods and nutrients contributing to variation in the DQS.

Setting

Eighty-nine primary schools across the four regions of the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).

Subjects

British schoolchildren (n 1294), aged 8–9 years, taking a packed lunch.

Results

The optimal model included all eight foods and seven of the thirteen nutrients, explaining 72 % of the variance in DQS. Folate, Fe and vitamin C, together with the eight food groups, explained 70 % of DQS variation.

Conclusions

Ideally, policies for school packed lunches should include food-based standards plus recommendations based on a small number of nutrients.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Email c.e.l.evans@leeds.ac.uk

References

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