Special report: Children tucking into lunchboxes with double their daily sugar intake

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

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.

Recommended maximum daily amounts:

4-6 year-olds

Sugar 19g

Salt 3g

Fat 18g

7-10-year-olds

Sugar 24g

Salt 5g

Fat 22g

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.”