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Massive decrease in fruit and vegetable intake reported by children receiving free school meals following lockdown

A massive decrease in fruit and vegetable intake has been reported by children receiving free school meals under lockdown. Preliminary findings of a detailed study of 60 nine-to-twelve-year-olds in London and the North East of England by Northumbria University’s Healthy Living Lab shows a significant decrease in the amount of fruit children have been eating. Before school closures they ate, on average, just over one portion of fruit per day. During the three-day reporting period during lockdown, almost half of the children (45%) said they hadn’t eaten any fruit, with the remaining children eating an average of half a portion of fruit per day.

Similar results were seen in the children’s responses on the amount of vegetables they had eaten. More than half of the children (55%) said they had not eaten any fresh vegetables during the three days during lockdown. The mean vegetable intake dropped from just over two portions per day when children were attending school, to an average of half a portion per day at home.

However, a four-fold increase was reported in the amount of sugar-sweetened drinks consumed, together with a substantial rise in the amount of crisps, chocolates and sweets being eaten. Children’s consumption of unhealthy snacks increased from an average of one over the three days when they were at school to six portions across three days at home during lockdown.

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