Nutritional Quality of Children's School Pack Lunches

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Title: Nutritional Quality of Children's School Pack Lunches
Authors: McLaughlin, Bernadette
Gormley, T. R. (Thomas Ronan)
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/6982
Date: 1982
Abstract: Most children now consume a lunch at school; the lunch may be supplied through the school itself, it may be prepared in the home and sent with the child, and/or the child may purchase food in a shop adjacent to the school. Whatever the source, the nutritional quality of the lunch is important as the child requires a good level of nutrition during school hours in order to maintain concentration and learn efficiently. Two physiological states i.e. malnutrition and hunger, can seriously impair the learning process. Among the behavioural characteristics of hunger are depression, restlessness, nervousness, a lack of self discipline and tiredness all of which are detrimental to the prospective student. Beck has pointed out that equal opportunity for advantaged and disadvantaged children does not exist until the physical and functional well-being of the two groups is identical. It is clear that nutritional status is a very important component of this state of well being. Lachance (1977) has recommended that lunch (RLA = recommended lunch allowance) should provide one third of the daily requirement of nutrients as outlined in the recommended daily allowance (RDA). It can be argued, with a degree· of convict-ion, that it is not essential that the food intake at school complies with the RLA as most children readily make up their RDA of nutrients by consuming an adequate meal on their return home. This, however, may not apply to all children and the requirement for a reasonable level of nutrition during actual school hours must not be overlooked. There is also increasing evidence which favours an even distribution of food intake throughout the day rather than the concentration of nutrient components into one or two meals. If the lunch consumed at school is small, and is made up of junk-type foods, then the position becomes more serious. For these reasons, it is desirable to adhere as closely as possible to the RLA even in the case of children who consume an adequate meal on their return home. The WHO has drawn up guide lines for school health programmes. These are listed as: a) providing. the optimal physical and social environment and educational conditions.; b) promoting healthful behaviour through health education in its broadest sense; and c) providing school health services for the early detection of disease and impairment and for the comprehensive treatment of those health prob1ems which can be dealt with only in close connection with the school situation. The onus of responsibility for ensuring a healthy nutritional environment for school children drifts between the parties involved. These are the parents, the school and the children themselves. The USA and Great Britain have adopted subsidized feeding programmes to ensure that school children have an adequate intake of nutrients while at school. Other options include supplementary feeding (i.e. the provision of a daily milk supplement) and/or restriction of the consumption of 'junk type' foods by school children while at school. It was decided, therefore, to carry out a survey to find out what kind of foods - and how much - were/was being eaten by children at school in the Dublin area. This includes the lunch sent from home with the child and other i terns that the chi 1 d purchases at, or on the way, to school. It was envisaged that areas in other parts of the country would also be surveyed; however, shortage of funds has ruled out this possibility for the time being. A random sample of 25 primary schools in Dublin city and county was selected. Over 500 pupils were interviewed once in the period October-December 1980 and again in the period Feb-April 1981. Their dietary habits in relation to food consumed at school (i.e. lunch and other snacks) were recorded and the intake and range of foods quantified in as far as possible. Obviously accurate quantification of the amount of food eaten and conversion of these findings to actual intakes of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals is difficult and the results must be interpreted by the reader as approximations rather than as absolute values. However, bearing these difficulties and limitations in mind, useful information on average values and trends can be obtained. Ii: is important to note that the study was carried out prior to the introduction of the EEC mi 1 k scheme. Presumably this scheme will have improved the lunchtime nutritional status of many children over-and-above the level found in this survey.
Type of material: Technical Report
Publisher: An Foras Talúntais
Start page: 1
End page: 26
Keywords: NutritionRecommended lunch allowanceNutrient intake
Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Agriculture and Food Science Research Collection

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