Snack Attack! What's in those snack bars?



It’s been a while since my last blog as I’ve been busy with end-of-term activities, Playcentre admin and keeping the kids entertained in the holidays! But now the holidays are nearing an end it’s time to think about packing school and kindy lunchboxes again.

Snack bars are convenient but do they stack up to their healthy image? Consumer bought more than 40 snack bars and calculated their health star rating from the product’s nutrition information panel and ingredients list (where possible).

The health star front-of-pack label is a similar concept to the energy-efficiency star ratings you find on appliances and it’s designed to give you at-a-glance information about the nutritional value of a food. The ratings range from ½ a star to 5 stars – the more stars the better.

Only 4 bars in our survey managed 4 stars or higher. Most of the bars rated less than 3 stars because they were high in energy, saturated fat and sugar, and didn’t contribute much to your daily fibre intake. To quote my big morning-kindy girl, they are definitely not “healthy kai” and shouldn’t be considered everyday eating.

The essential ingredients of a healthy lunchbox are 2 serves of wholegrain breads or cereals, ½ a serve of protein, 1 serve of salad or vegetables, 1 serve of low-fat dairy, and snacks based on fruit, vegetables and dairy. Remember to keep food items small and manageable. Bite-sized sandwiches, fruit cut into pieces, vegetable sticks and cherry tomatoes are ideal.

You can check out Consumer’s full report on snack bars and other lunchbox snacks at www.consumer.org.nz.


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