Health

Ultra-processed foods make up almost two-thirds of UK school meals.imperial news

British school lunches contain a high proportion of highly processed foods, which worsen children’s health and increase their risk of obesity.

British elementary and junior high school students receive majority of Calories at lunch from ‘ultra-processed foods’, according to a study led by researchers at Imperial College London and published in the journal today nutrients.

An analysis that looked at the contents of school lunches for more than 3,000 children between 2008 and 2017 found that 64% of the calories in school-served meals came from ultra-processed foods, with high levels of processed food consumption. food and increased risk of childhood obesity. Ultra-processed bread, snacks, Pudding Sugary drinks are one of the biggest culprits, and overall bento include More calories from highly processed foods compared to school lunches

“With the current cost of living crisis, school meals should be a way for all children to have access to low-cost, nutritious meals.” Dr. Jenny Purnham Faculty of Public Health

According to researchers, publicly funded school meals (i.e. Free school meals and what children buy at school) are important mechanisms for providing healthy meals to children, especially those from low-income families. The findings highlight an important opportunity for policy makers and educators to “level the playing field” by improving the nutritional quality of school meals, they explain.They argue that urgent policy change is needed to limit the amount of processed food in school meals. include And by increasing access to free school meals, we can help UK children eat and be healthier.

Dr. Jenny Purnhamfrom Faculty of Public Health The first author of the paper, a professor at Imperial College London, said: These findings should be viewed as a call to action to invest in policies that can promote healthy eating. With the current cost of living crisis, school lunches need to ensure that all children have access to low-cost, nutritious meals. increase. “

She continues: However, these foods are generally high in salt, fat, sugar and other additives and are associated with various health outcomes. this is It is important that people are aware of the health risks for children who consume them high level at school.

“As food prices continue to rise in the UK and globally, access to affordable, healthy food is becoming more difficult for more people. , need to provide access to healthy, minimally processed diets, but they are currently not living up to their potential.”

Group of children having lunch at school.
Credit: Shutterstock

ultra processed food (UPF) are items that are processed in bulk during manufacturing, such as frozen pizza, carbonated or milk-based beverages, mass-produced prepackaged bread, and many ready-to-eat foods. Previous studies have linked their regular consumption to increased long-term risk of obesity and health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Previous research by the team reported the amount of UPF consumed by children in the UK, which is the highest in Europe.The work also highlighted eating patterns Established From childhood to adulthood, it can put children on a lifelong obesity trajectory, which can lead to a range of adverse physical and mental health consequences.

‘Worrying’ Findings from National Survey

In the latest study, the team looked at the diets of more than 3,300 children collected at primary and secondary schools. National Diet and Nutrition SurveyThe objective was to examine UPF rates in boxed lunches (food brought in from home) and school lunches (including school-provided lunches (free school lunches) or lunches purchased by students in school cafeterias). That was it.

The analysis included data from 1,895 elementary school students (ages 4 to 11) and 1,408 junior high school students (ages 11 to 18) and analyzed the food groups that make up the total number of calories and the amount of total food intake in the diet. I checked the percentage. (grams).

Overall, about 75% of the calories in all types of school meals came from the UPF, and 82% of the calories in packed lunches came from the UPF, compared to 64% of school meals for all ages.

However, among school lunches, junior high school students were found to have higher levels of UPF (70% of calories) compared to elementary school students (61% of calories). include high calorie content of fast food Pudding and dessert.

In general, low-income children tended to have higher levels of UPF in their tableware (77% of calories) than high-income children (71% of calories).

In elementary school, almost half of the calories in lunches came from ultra-processed breads and snacks, compared to just 13% of the calories in school lunches. Bentos also tended to have fewer calories from minimally processed fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy, and starches (such as pasta and potatoes) compared to school lunches.

“British children are consuming very high levels of ultra-processed foods, and I fear that the diets consumed in school may contribute to this.” Dr. Esther Vamos Faculty of Public Health

As a percentage of grams of food intake, one of the largest UPF contributors came from ultra-processed beverages such as carbonated drinks, fruit juices, or yogurt drinks. One of the easiest and most cost-effective opportunities to do so is to replace these high-calorie, ultra-processed beverages with water.

Although this study is the first to bring together both elementary and middle school settings, the researchers emphasized the limitation that middle school students self-reported dietary data while elementary school students did not, although this In most cases, elementary school students underestimate the amount of UPF they consume.

Dr. Esther Vamos, from the Imperial School of Public Health, added: School feeding is very important to ensure that all children have access to affordable and nutritious meals.

“British children very high It is the level of ultra-processed foods, and there are concerns that the meals consumed in schools contribute to this. Our findings call for urgent policy change to improve the accessibility and quality of school meals.

This research National Institute of Health Sciences (NIHR), through the NIHR School for Public Health Research.



Ultra-processed foods in British school lunches and lunch boxesWritten by Jenny Pernum nutrients.

Ultra-processed foods make up almost two-thirds of UK school meals.imperial news

Source link Ultra-processed foods make up almost two-thirds of UK school meals.imperial news

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