Bet­ter choices for lunch boxes

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - CONTENTS -


Pack­ing school lunches can be stress­ful, es­pe­cially when you’re short on time. Pack­aged snacks are con­ve­nient and kids love them, but with a mine­field of op­tions to choose from, find­ing healthy prod­ucts can feel like you’re pan­ning for gold. Here are some ways to avoid the sugar traps.

• BE SNACK WISE Con­sumer ad­vo­cacy group CHOICE re­cently cal­cu­lated the Health Star Rat­ing for more than 260 kids’ snacks and found just three prod­ucts scored the top rat­ing of five health stars.

This con­firms why the Aus­tralian Di­etary Guide­lines say pro­cessed snacks are not a nec­es­sary part of our kids’ di­ets for good health, and sug­gest they be in­cluded ‘some­times’, not ‘ev­ery day’.

• REAL FRUIT OR TOOTH ACHE? Snacks with claims like ‘made with real fruit’, ‘100% fruit’ and ‘65% fruit juice’ im­ply they’re nu­tri­tion­ally sim­i­lar to whole fruit, but the in­gre­di­ents lists tell an­other story.

Prod­ucts with a small per­cent­age of fruit have long lists of in­gre­di­ents, such as fruit juice con­cen­trate or fruit purée, which are just an­other form of added sugar, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion. You might also see thick­en­ers, colours and preser­va­tives. And den­tists warn that dried fruit, and fruit straps and leathers can stick to teeth and cause de­cay.

• BEWARE OF ‘HEALTH’ CLAIMS Treats la­belled ‘sugar free’ may look like a good choice, but they might not live up to their health halo. If they use agave nec­tar, rice malt syrup or maple syrup, give them the flick. These are still forms of sugar and can con­trib­ute to weight gain and den­tal caries, while other ‘sugar-free’ prod­ucts are ar­ti­fi­cially sweet­ened.

Out of more than 260 kids’ snacks, just three scored five health stars

Ta­mar Val­ley Kids Trop­i­cal All Nat­u­ral Greek Yo­ghurt 4.0g sugar per pouch

Arnott’s Tiny Teddy Spotty Dog Snack Packs 6.1g sugar per snack pack

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