Cancer charity attacks lunchbox ham

A cancer charity has urged parents to stop putting ham and other processed meat in their children’s packed lunches.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has warned that if children are fed sandwich fillers such as ham and salami, they could develop a taste for processed meats, which would “increase their risk of developing cancer later in life”.

The charity suggests that parents should fill children’s sandwiches with poultry or fish, low-fat cheese, houmous, or small amounts of lean meat instead.

WCRF recommends that people avoid eating smoked, salted or cured meats because there is scientific evidence that eating processed meats increases the risk of bowel cancer. The research does not specifically look at the effect of eating processed meat in childhood, but the charity says it “makes sense” to adopt a healthy eating habits from a young age.

Marni Craze, Children’s Education Manager for WCRF, said: “If children have processed meat in their lunch every day, then over the course of a school year they will be eating quite a lot of it. It is better if children learn to view processed meat as an occasional treat if it is eaten at all.

“Putting ham or high-calorie snacks in your child’s sandwich might seem like a convenient option, particularly for parents who do not have a lot of time to prepare their child’s lunchbox. But packed lunches are a part of a child’s diet that is relatively easy to control and it does not have to take too much time or effort to prepare a healthy lunch.”

WCRF has also advised parents to avoid lunch box fillers that are high in fat and calories, because scientists say that after not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the most important thing we can do for cancer prevention. The charity hit out at high-energy products that are specifically marketed for children’s lunchboxes, such as Peperami, which is listed by Sainsbury’s in the “kid’s lunchbox” section of its website, even though it is 44% fat.

Craze added: “With the large number of overweight and obese children in the UK, it is important that parents check the nutritional information on food to see if it is high in calories. If children are regularly eating high-calorie foods or sugary drinks then they are more likely to become overweight.”

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