Parental Reports of Lunch-Packing Behaviours Lack Accuracy: Reported Barriers and Facilitators to Packing School Lunches.
Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research / Revue Canadienne de la Pratique et de la Recherche en Dietetique
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Parents influence the foods their children consume and often provide proxy reports of this intake. One way parents exert this influence is by providing home-packed lunches. This study compared parental reports of foods packed in children's lunches with what was actually packed and identified parental barriers and facilitators to packing lunches.
Grade 3 and 4 student-parent dyads (n = 321) in 19 elementary schools in Ontario participated. Parental reports and actual packed lunch contents were collected via self-administered surveys and direct observation, respectively. Parental barriers and facilitators were obtained through open and closed survey questions.
Median portions packed were significantly higher for sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks and significantly lower for fruits, fruit juice, vegetables, milk/alternatives, and meat/alternatives than parents reported. Packing a healthy lunch was "important/very important/of the utmost importance" for 95.9% of respondents, and 97.5% perceived their nutrition knowledge as "adequate/good/very good". Barriers to packing a lunch included: child's food preferences, time, finances, allergy policies, and food safety. Nutrition resources, observing other children's lunches, child's input, and planning ahead were identified as facilitators.
Strategies to improve packed lunches should move beyond parental nutrition knowledge and importance of lunch packing to address parental barriers and facilitators.