PARENTS are fuelling the obesity crisis by cramming kids’ lunchboxes with more than the daily healthy intake of sugar, a study reveals.
Primary school children are most likely to munch a white bread ham sandwich, yogurt, crisps, apple and carton of orange juice.
But this has 25g of added sugar – 1g more than the suggested 24g for a nine-year-old.
It also contains more than a third of their guideline daily calories, half of their salt and a quarter of their fat – all in one meal.
The one in four who also has a chocolate bar or biscuits fare even worse, research by Action for Children found.
Unhealthy diets and a lack of exercise mean one in three pupils are now overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.
Three quarters of parents (75%) feel guilty about what they pack in their youngster’s lunch, the charity’s poll of 4,348 adults reveals.
Some 38% pick the contents based on what they think their child will eat but only 28% on what they think is nutritious.
Many say they have been “shamed” by other parents, teachers or school staff for what they feed their child.
The most popular items include a ham sandwich (59%), yogurt (54%), crisps (60%), apple (51%), biscuits (31%) and chocolate (26%).
Action for Children suggests swapping juice for water or milk, ham for chicken or tuna, and crisps for chopped veg and humus.
They also advise using less spreads and sauces and switching between sandwiches, salads and omelettes.
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Emma Horne, from the charity, said: “Childhood obesity is a problem we need to tackle, to save our children from suffering physical and mental health problems when they grow up.
“Parents need the knowledge and confidence to give their child the best start in life when it comes to nutrition.”
Nutritionist Mari Clark said: “There is no need for any lunchbox to contain crisps, sweets, processed food, cereal bars, chocolates and things like that.
“If you have sandwich with some good quality protein, a portion of fruit, veg and dairy then that’s enough.”
Previous studies have claimed kids bust their sugar allowance before they even arrive at school because the high amount in breakfast cereals.