Lunchbox Lads and Lassies Healthier Than Tuck Shop Tubbies, HSRC Finds

Article excerpt

A LUNCHBOX is the answer, not the tuck shop, says the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

Children sent to school every day with a sandwich inside their lunchbox are far more likely to consume a diet with enough nutrients and are less likely to be overweight.

Children who carry a lunchbox to school also appear to have greater dietary diversity, consume more regular meals, have a higher standard of living and greater nutritional self-efficacy than those who buy food from the school tuck shop.

These are the results of a study conducted at Western Cape schools.

Barriers to the promotion of good nutrition in schools in low-income communities included a lack of access to nutritious and affordable food, together with the easy availability of inexpensive foods of low nutritive value from school tuck shops or street vendors.

Fieldworkers questioned 717 Grade 4 pupils at 16 schools, in both rural and urban areas, about everything they had eaten the day before.

The survey found that 69 percent of pupils took a lunchbox to school and, of these, 49 percent consumed at least one item bought from the school tuck shop. Of those who did not carry a lunchbox, 60 percent consumed an item bought from the tuck shop and 60 percent ate food provided by the school feeding scheme.

Others did not eat anything during the school day.

Most, 90 percent, ate breakfast in the morning regardless of whether or not they took a lunchbox to school.

The pupils who carried a lunchbox to school were predominantly from urban schools and had higher standards of living compared with those who did not. …