Sack lunches for preschoolers may not provide adequate nutrients that is necessary for their growth and development, a study has revealed.
During the study, the research team from University of Texas at Austin and Third Coast Research and Development Inc. of Galveston, Texas examined 74 three to five-year-olds attending full-time child-care centres that required parents to provide lunches.
They found that more than 50 percent of lunches provided less than minimum amounts of calories, carbohydrates, vitamin A, calcium, iron and zinc, and 96 percent of lunches provided less than minimum recommended amounts of dietary fibre.
The lunches did contain 114 percent of the recommended amount of sodium.
When parents were asked if lunch provides an important opportunity for their children to receive nutrients, all 97 agreed.
However, 63 percent responded that they tend to pack only foods they know their child will eat.
The researchers concluded that, even though parents understand the importance of lunch, they may not know how to consistently pack a nutritious sack lunch for their children.
"When parents do not consistently pack a nutritious sack lunch they miss an opportunity to teach and reinforce good dietary habits to their children," said the researchers.
"As child-care centres shift the responsibility for providing meals and snacks to parents, they must address the practices that affect the long-term health and well-being of the children they serve," they added.
The study appears in Journal of the American Dietetic Association.