Does your child's lunchbox have enough vegetables?

CANCER Council is lifting the lid on Queensland lunchboxes as parents prepare to send kids back-to-school, with research showing many packed lunches are alarmingly low on veggies.

Cancer Council is calling on parents to plan ahead for their child's daily health and wellbeing.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said many lunchboxes contained the recommended serves of fruit for a child's diet, but not enough vegetables.

"We understand the time, financial, emotional and practical pressures on Queensland parents that can make balancing the weekday lunchbox a difficult task," Ms Clift said.

"A few simple changes can make all the difference to the daily health and wellbeing of our children - and start positive habits that ensure great health in the long-term.

"Swapping out packaged snacks, often high in saturated fat, salt and sugar, for an apple, banana, carrot or celery is easy - and takes the same amount of time to prepare.

"A balanced lunchbox should contain one serve of lean protein, wholegrains (like bread, wraps, rice and muesli), one or two pieces of fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and plenty of water to keep kids hydrated.

"The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend four and a half serves of vegetables daily for children aged four to eight, and five serves a day for children aged nine to 11.

"Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrot sticks and a healthy dip, celery or a small salad are quick, easy and healthy veggie options for the everyday lunchbox."

Parents are encouraged to use the Health Star Rating Scheme when shopping to ensure any packaged goods placed in a lunchbox are the healthiest possible.

The Health Star Rating Scheme features ratings from half a star up to five stars and includes nutritional information about saturated fat, sugar, sodium and energy content in food products.

"When choosing packaged products like cheese, crackers, popcorn, grain-based bars or fruit tubs, use the health star rating to pick the healthiest possible," Ms Clift said.

"Look for muesli bars with whole grains and lower sugar levels, buy diced fruit in juice rather than syrup, choose popcorn over chips and sweet biscuits, and avoid salted crackers."

More information about Cancer Council Queensland, and preparing a healthy lunchbox, is available via 13 11 20 or  

Topics:  back to school healthy eating

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