Children are now facing higher risks of obesity than ever, and one of the main causes is the contents of their packed lunches, new research shows.
The study, which was the biggest of its kind to take place to date, was conducted by the Children’s Food Trust. It found that a standard packed lunch serves up more than a six-year-old’s entire daily sugar limit.
Generally, chocolate biscuits, crisps and sugary drinks are found in packed lunches, which all contribute to an excess of sugar in a child's diet.
The charity’s chief executive Linda Cregan said: "One of the problems we have got is that one in five children starting school is overweight or obese. We know obese children are more likely to become obese adults with the problems that brings, such as diabetes and high blood pressure - it is a health time bomb."
During the study, researchers analysed 365 million packed lunches consumed by children under the age of 25 last year, based on the shopping behaviour of thousands of people across the country.
Bread and margarine were the most common items bought, followed by fresh fruit, but biscuits came in ninth, with crisps 12th, sugary drinks 13th and cakes 17th.
According to Professor Parveen Kumar of the British Medical Association: "Doctors are increasingly concerned about the impact of a poor diet, which causes up to 70,000 deaths a year, and has a greater impact on the NHS budget than alcohol, smoking and physical inactivity combined."
She went on to say that the child obesity strategy will be the government's best opportunity to develop practical solutions to the issue, as well address to negative influences on children's diets.