Almost half of all Aussie primary school kids bring lunch home uneaten once a week, one of the most widespread surveys into what children eat at school reveals.
The UNCLE TOBYS Fuel for thought report: Getting kids from recess to lunch found that 45 per cent of parents are swapping healthy options for treats every week, while over half of parents are packing three or more snacks a day.
The report, uncovers more than 1000 parents' top priorities when packing a lunchbox, and found nutrition is on top, followed by whether the food offers enough energy to keep kids going throughout the day, and whether the food appeals to children.
While the focus of feeding children at school is often centred at lunchtime, Accredited Practising Dietitian Natasha Murray, said children should be fuelling their bodies and brains with nutritious snacks more regularly.
'The Uncle Tobys report has found one in six kids eat just three times a day. However, in some schools lunch can be as late as 1pm, so regular fuelling with healthy food throughout the day is important to keep their brain working at its best," Ms Murray said.
According to the report released today, around 36 per cent of dads said health is the number one priority when packing a school lunchbox, while 32 per cent of mums focus on ensuring enough food goes into the lunchboxes to keep their kids going.
It also found that when it comes to choosing packaged snacks, 47 per cent of parents are concerned about sugar, while 30 per cent believe Health Star Ratings help them make informed choices.
The report coincides with the launch of the first major overhaul of UNCLE TOBYS muesli bars in the brand's history, creating Australia's largest range of 4 Health Star Rating muesli bars. Both the UNCLE TOBYS Chewy and Yoghurt muesli bar ranges now have more wholegrains, while sugar has been significantly reduced in the Yoghurt muesli bars range.
The project to redesign the bars required a $7 million capital investment in new equipment at the factory at Wahgunyah in regional Victoria, and took two years to complete.
Ms Murray advises parents to get children involved in the planning of snacks and lunches. 'Offer healthy foods and snacks you know will fuel them throughout the day, and let children choose options they like," she said.
'Get kids involved in preparing food and even packing the lunchbox – it's well known that kids who help prepare food are more likely to eat it."
Tips on packing a healthy lunchbox:
Get kids involved in the planning of food for recess and lunchtime
Keep it simple
Offer up to four healthy snack options then let the kids choose
Make fruit quick and easy to eat i.e. cut up apples and oranges for a quick snack on the go
Make sure wrapped food can be opened easily by kids