Lunch ‘loaded with sugar’ at attractions

Some of Britain’s most popular visitor attractions are selling pre-prepared children’s lunchboxes “loaded” with sugar and processed food as the norm, a charity has claimed.

The Soil Association’s annual Out to Lunch survey found that 75 per cent of children’s lunchboxes sold at popular attractions did not include any vegetable or salad option — and that half offered boxes that included muffins, cakes and sweet treats but no fresh fruit.

Parents also reported that few attractions actively provided free fresh drinking water for children but made sugary drinks readily available for sale, while a lunchbox at one attraction was found to include 36g of sugar — 189 per cent of a child’s recommended daily allowance.

Parents at one attraction said they were refused a glass of tap water and told to buy a bottle from the restaurant, the charity said.

The survey found that cost was the indicator of healthy food, with children’s meals at attractions in the bottom five of the league table on average more than £1 more expensive than those in the top five.

The two top attractions on the league table, the Eden Project and Chester Zoo, both offered healthier choices. Chester Zoo served locally sourced milk and farm-assured meat, while all meals at the Eden Project were freshly prepared and included locally sourced meat and vegetables.

Rob Percival, policy officer at the Soil Association, said: “So long as junk-filled lunchboxes continue to characterise family outings, parents will have a hard time convincing their children that healthy food can be a treat too.”