Higher Quality Intake From School Lunch Meals Compared With Bagged Lunches

Inyoung Hur, Teri Burgess-Champoux, Marla M Reicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Studies show that nutritional quality of lunches brought from home is poor when compared with school lunches. Most of these studies were conducted in the United Kingdom, while studies of this type are limited in the United States. Therefore, this study compared lunch food, nutrient, and energy intake by lunch type (school lunch vs bagged lunch) in 2 schools in a Midwest metropolitan area of the United States. Food intake data were collected from 129 children with meal observation procedures. Energy, food, and nutrient intakes were estimated using Nutrition Data System for Research software and compared with t tests by lunch type. Children eating school lunches had higher intakes of protein; vitamins A, D, and K; and calcium and lower intakes of energy, fat, carbohydrate, vitamin E, and sugar compared with children eating bagged lunches. The ratios of mean protein and calcium consumption to minimum required values tended to be greater for children eating school lunches compared with those eating bag lunches. Children eating bag lunches had lower vegetable intake and higher whole grain and fruit intakes and higher meal energy density compared with children eating school lunch. Findings support parent nutrition education to improve the nutritional quality of bagged lunches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-75
Number of pages6
JournalICAN: Infant, Child, & Adolescent Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • food and nutrient intake
  • school lunch
  • school-aged children


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