Tuesday 23 May 2017

School lunches making teens fat

New research reveals low nutrients and highly processed food in student meals

Research found that homemade lunches have a higher nutritional value than those bought in shops or schools Stock photo: Getty Images/Hemera
Research found that homemade lunches have a higher nutritional value than those bought in shops or schools Stock photo: Getty Images/Hemera
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

lunches provided by schools are contributing to the growing obesity problem in children, new research reveals.

Two in five teenagers are actually eating junk food at school, according to the new study from Dublin City University (DCU).

While 60pc of those aged 15-17 bring in a homemade lunch, the rest rely on what is sold in school, the local shop or a fast food outlet.

However, these lunches contain much higher levels of calories, sugars and fat.

Typically, school or shop-bought fare is low in nutrients and features processed foods such as sausages or breaded chicken rolls, chips and high-calorie soft drinks. But homemade lunches are more likely to contain wholemeal bread, cheese, red meat and fruit - and have fewer calories.

The findings of the research, carried out under Dr Mary Rose Sweeney at DCU's School of Nursing and Human Sciences, are published in the 'Journal of Public Health Nutrition'.

Many schools rely on private catering companies and vending machines to provide lunches and snacks.

While there are healthy eating policies from Government departments and agencies, schools have free rein.

Irish Independent

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