P07-029-23 Profiling the Nutritional Quality of Packed Lunch Boxes Among Primary School Children in Leicester, UK




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Profiling the nutritional quality of packed lunchboxes among primary school children in Leicester, UK.

Chloe Winter1, Lisa Agbanusi2, Jane Gadsby3, Karen Sheerin4, Joanne Plater5, Yannan Jin1. Objectives The study aimed to investigate the nutritional profile of packed lunchboxes among primary school pupils in Leicester, UK. Study methods Ethics approval was obtained at De Montfort University prior to data collection. Three primary schools at the City of Leicester took part in this study. Photographs of pupils’ own lunch boxes and their age and gender information were anonymously collected. The nutritional content of each lunchbox was analysed using the UK Food Portion-Size Guide and the nutrition analysis software Nutritics®. The nutritional profile of lunchboxes was evaluated against the UK Eatwell Guide and the UK Dietary Reference Values (DRV) for energy and nutrient intakes, based on the assumption that pupils’ lunch contributes to one-third of their daily food and nutritional intakes. Data were statistically analysed using One-Sample T Test, SPSS v28.0. Results In total, 32 pupils aged between 5 and 11 years completed the study. On average, pupils had a significantly inadequate energy intake from their packed lunches (P = 0.035), with a mean deficit of 86.5 kcal (SD = 238.3) when comparing to their respective DRVs. Contrastingly, pupils had an excessive intake of saturated fat (Mean = 34.4% of total energy; SD = 25.5), significantly above 11% as the maximum recommended level (P = 0.000). The average consumption of fruit and vegetables (F&V) from packed lunches was 0.58 portions (SD = 0.85), almost three times less than the recommended intake per main meal, i.e. 1.67 portions (P = 0.000), estimated based on the 5-A-Day recommendation. Besides, 58% of the pupils did not have any F&V at lunch.

Conclusion The study revealed the suboptimal nutritional intake of school pupils from their packed lunchboxes in the City of Leicester, which could help explain the high childhood obesity rate in Leicestershire. This first-hand information will help inform the development of future interventions (educational and nutritional) for tackling the dietary and obesity issues among children at both regional and national levels.

Fund source The study was not funded.


open access article


Nutritional quality, packed lunchboxes, primary school children


Winter, C., Agbanusi, L., Gadsby, J., Sheerin, K., Plater, J., Jin, Y. (2023) Profiling the nutritional quality of packed lunchboxes among primary school children in Leicester, UK. Current Developments in Nutrition, 7 Supp. 1, 101020


Research Institute

Institute for Allied Health Sciences Research