‘Healthy’ food sugar-heavy

Lunch­box choice not the best one

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

A school lunch­box packed with yo­ghurt, dried fruit and nuts, a cereal bar and an or­ange juice has more sugar in it than one packed with so-called ‘‘no-no’’ foods, a Waikato Times in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found.

But that does not mean you should be fill­ing your shop­ping trol­ley with junk food, a nutri­tion­ist says.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion found a school lunch com­pris­ing the foods above, had more sugar in it than one con­tain­ing cho­co­late, fizzy drink, a jam sand­wich and a packet of chips.

The worst of­fender may come as no sur­prise: a 350- millil­itre bot­tle of or­ange juice con­tains 34 grams of sugar, 1g less than a 355ml can of lemon­ade.

A tub of berry yo­ghurt had 16.9g of sugar, while a multi­grain cereal bar which boasted a Heart Foun­da­tion Tick was more than a quar­ter sugar with 9.4g in a 35g bar.

Com­pare this with a jam sand­wich and a fun- size cho­co­late bar, and there is a bit of a dif­fer­ence.

A sand­wich with

two pieces of white toast-slice bread, mar­garine and straw­berry jam weighs in at 9.4g of sugar while a 12g cho­co­late bar has 8.1g.

A fruit and nut mix, a ‘‘ nu­tri­tious su­per snack from na­ture’’ and which fea­tures a slo­gan claim­ing it is ‘‘for your heart’’, had 9.4g of sugar per 30g serv­ing while a packet of potato chips had 0.2g per 40g. But this is not to say you should be send­ing fizzy and chips along to school.

It is all about fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles, nutri­tion­ist Bronwen An­der­son said.

A re­cent sur­vey, com­mis­sioned by 5+ A Day to find out about Ki­wis’ fruit and vegetable eat­ing habits, found about a third of New Zealan­ders ate the rec­om­mended five or more pieces of fruit and veg­eta­bles a day, with din­ner be­ing the meal where the most fresh pro­duce was eaten, Ms An­der­son said.

But a lunch­box was a per­fect place to be cre­ative and add some nutri­tion.

‘‘The more colours in your lunch­box, the more an­tiox­i­dants and vi­ta­mins and min­er­als you get.’’ A per­fect lunch­box for her would con­tain a whole­meal sand­wich or wrap filled with fresh veg­eta­bles, a bot­tle of wa­ter, some fruit and some vege snacks such as car­rot sticks and a low­fat dip.

‘‘A sand­wich or wrap is a great way to get an ex­tra serv­ing of veg­eta­bles.

‘‘ Jazz up a ham or chicken sand­wich with sliced ap­ples, beet­root, snow­peas and rocket.’’ Ms An­der­son said it was easy to look at ‘‘nat­u­ral-look­ing’’ pack­ag­ing and as­sume it was healthy but peo­ple were start­ing to wise up to mar­keters.

‘‘ I think par­ents are be­gin­ning to be­come aware of it.’’ It was not just chil­dren who should be cut­ting down on the sugar, Ms An­der­son said, as there were plenty of ben­e­fits for adults from pack­ing their own lunches full of fresh pro­duce.

It in­cluded the low cost along with health ben­e­fits and set­ting a good ex­am­ple for chil­dren.

She noted par­ents should be ex­tremely aware of what they were putting in chil­dren’s lunch­boxes as they were shap­ing their fu­tures.

‘‘You’re train­ing your kids for life, you’re set­ting their habits.’’

The Heart Foun­da­tion wants to limit the amount of sug­ary drinks and added sugar con­sumed, and na­tional nutri­tion ad­viser Delv­ina Gor­ton said it sup­ported the de­vel­op­ment of school guide­lines.

‘‘ We know that high in­takes of added sugar and sug­ary drinks im­pact on risk fac­tors for heart dis­ease like body weight, but we are also start­ing to see new ev­i­dence of a di­rect effect of added sugar on in­creased risk of heart dis­ease,’’ she said.

School lunches should fuel chil­dren’s ac­tiv­ity lev­els, she said and be low in sat­u­rated fat, salt and sugar.

lunch­box

nicola.ste­wart@wrcn.co.nz

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