Brescia University College research study shows school-aged children consume more sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks from packed lunches in the Balanced School Day schedule than kids in the traditional schedule

October 31, 2016

Dr. Paula Dworatzek, Chair of the School of Food & Nutritional Sciences recently investigated the differences in students’ lunches in the traditional classroom day versus the balanced school day (BSD).

The study which will be published in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research in mid-October looked at 321 children in 19 schools across Southwestern Ontario who were in either a BSD or in a traditional classroom environment.

Findings of the study revealed that students in the BSD schedule consumed more sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks from packed lunches, than students in the traditional schedule. Dr. Dworatzek says of the findings, “The BSD has been implemented in Ontario schools for over a decade, and this study is the first to show the potential for unintended negative nutrition consequences. The BSD per se isn’t bad, but we need to help parents and children understand that they do not need two sugar-sweetened beverages and two dessert-type snacks, just because they have two breaks.”

In addition, only 41% of students had vegetables and 63% had fruit packed in their lunch, while 93% had snacks. Slightly more than 70% of children did not meet one-third of the vegetables/fruit recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide and this increased to 80% when fruit juice was excluded from the analysis. The proportion of vegetables left uneaten was higher than the proportion of snacks left uneaten.

Dworatzek says the conclusions from the study illustrate the need to provide children with both vegetables and fruits in their packed lunches. “We didn’t measure vegetable intake outside of schools hours; however, I think it is safe to say that most kids are not eating vegetables before school or even as an after-school snack, which means that if they don’t have them during school, the only time they are likely to eat them is at dinner. The message we need to get across is that if kids (and parents too) only eat vegetables at dinner, they are not likely going to meet their daily needs.”

“Parents face many barriers when attempting to pack healthy lunches for their children. Schools, health professionals, and parents need to make concerted efforts to find ways to overcome these barriers.”

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Brescia University College, Canada’s only women’s university college, is affiliated with Western University. The 1,500 women registered as either full- or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, Business, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic University College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity.