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Parents consumed with guilt over contents of children’s school lunchboxes

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Three-quarters of parents of children aged five to 13 who take a packed lunch to school feel guilty it is not healthy enough.

A YouGov poll of 535 parents for the Action for Children charity found that the most important factor in deciding what to put in a packed lunch was whether the child would eat it, not if it was healthy.

The most popular items packed were a ham sandwich, a yoghurt, a packet of crisps and an apple and a carton of juice for a drink.

Emma Horne, Action for Children England South director, said: “Most parents understand the pressure to pack a lunchbox that will come home empty at the end of the day. And it makes things even harder when you’re time-poor and budget-conscious.

“But it’s clear that childhood obesity is a problem we need to tackle, to save our children from suffering physical and mental health problems when they grow up.

“Getting eating habits right in these early years isn’t as daunting as it seems with the help of a few clear tips, and it can make a lifetime of difference.”

Latest official figures show around a third of children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.

And the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, shows that four-to-10-year-olds are consuming the equivalent of 13 sugar cubes a day on average, instead of the maximum recommended limit of five-to-six.

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