Children are tucking into lunchboxes with double their daily sugar intake

Millions of children are tucking into lunchboxes containing more than double their daily sugar intake, a study has found.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 15th March 2017, 12:40 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:47 am

These images show six different lunchboxes with the typical ingredients eaten by 52 per cent of children up and down the country every day.

But four of them contain at least 47g of sugar - more than double the 19g maximum recommended daily intake for 4-6-year-olds and almost twice the 24g 7-10 year olds should be having.

Four of them also contain between 1.51g and 2.09g of salt - more than half of the maximum 3g a 4-6-year-old should be consuming.

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But research has found 39 per cent of parents have no idea how much salt and sugar their children should be having in a single day, so admit they struggle to keep to the limit.

A spokesman for MyProtein, the creators of healthy snack range Little Beasts, which commissioned the research, said: “Even though parents often have their children’s best interests at heart, many kids are eating much more salt and sugar than they should be.

“And many of the so-called ‘lower fat’ or ‘non-sugar’ snacks make up the shortfall in other ways, with a low-fat content usually replaced by a higher amount of sugar, and sugar-free items often containing more fat.

“Our study found that there is a real danger of British children growing up less healthy than they should be, due to the packed lunches they take to school.”


The study, of 2,000 parents found that 46 per cent of parents make packed lunches so they can keep a closer eye on what their kids are eating - with another four in 10 saying they prefer it because it’s cheaper.

But one in five parents admit that, in general, they’re clueless when it comes to how healthy the food they put in their child’s lunchbox is.

And that figure jumps up to 3 in 10 when asked about how much salt and sugar their kids are consuming from their packed lunches.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, 55 per cent of parents think their children are consuming about the right amount of salt for their age.


Sixty per cent think their children are eating about the right amount of calories, although nearly a third admit their child probably eats more sugar than they should.

Almost a third of parents have been told by schools that their child’s lunchbox contains unhealthy items that shouldn’t be there.

A spokesman for Little Beasts added: “With reduced sugar, fat, and sodium, as well as zero artificial sweeteners, colours or flavouring, the Little Beasts range has been developed to offer healthy snacks for children’s lunchboxes, while appealing to their visual senses and taste buds.”

The recommended maximum daily amounts for four to six year olds is 19g of sugar, 3g of salt and 18g of fat. For seven to 10 year olds it’s 24g of sugar, 5g of salt and 22g of fat.



Sliced ham sandwich on multiseed bread,

Petits Filous 100g pot or similar

Go Ahead snack bar or similar

Dry roasted peanuts 25g serving or similar

Yazoo 200ml strawberry milkshake or similar


Sugar: 49.7g

Salt 2.09g

Fat 26.4g


Sliced chicken on 50/50 bread

Chocolate mousse 60g

Natural fruit and nut bar

Pack of Hula-Hoops or similar

Can of Diet Coke 330ml or similar

Sugar: 26.1g

Salt 1.89g

Fat 14.8g


Brown pitta with sliced ham

Chocolate mousse 60g

Natural fruit and nut bar

Packet of prawn cocktail crisps or similar

Water 500ml

Sugar: 26.2g

Salt 1.51g

Fat 16.1g


White pitta with sliced chicken

Strawberry Fruit Corner or similar

1 banana (100g)

Packet of Hula Hoops or similar

Innocent kids smoothie 180ml or similar

Sugar: 63.8g

Salt 1.49g

Fat 13.1g


Sliced ham on white bread

Full fat Babybel cheese or similar

1 red apple

Frubes 80g serving or similar

Yazoo milkshake 200ml or similar

Sugar: 47.1g

Salt 1.89g

Fat 11.9g


Chicken spread on 50/50 bread

Coco Pops snack bar or similar

100g black grapes

Petits Filous 100g pot or similar

Fresh apple juice 150ml

Sugar: 54.8g

Salt 1.35g

Fat 13.6g