How Much Sugar is hiding in your child’s lunchbox? 

You may be horrified to learn how much sugar is really in your child’s lunchbox.

Leederville dental encourages parents to cut the amount of sugar in their children’s lunch boxes.

In NSW alone more than 100 children each week are having multiple rotting teeth extracted, filled and capped under general anaesthetic, the latest NSW hospitalisation data shows.

How much sugar is recommended per day?

Australians currently consume on average 14 teaspoons of sugar per day. It is recommended for dental health that we reduce this to 6 teaspoons.

Australian adults and children should consume no more than 51 grams in free sugars a day, according to World Health Organisation guidelines, and halving this amount can lead to extra health benefits.

One teaspoon of granulated sugar equals 4 grams of sugar. To put it another way, 16 grams of sugar in a product is equal to about 4 teaspoons of granulated sugar.

So we should be eating no more than 51g (13 teaspoons) of sugar and aiming for 26 grams of sugar per day (6.5 teaspoons) per day.

As these below examples of lunch boxes show your child may be eating 7 x this amount just for lunch.

See the results of a Fairfax Media analysis consisting of five basic lunch items in 5 different Lunch Boxes.

High sugar lunchbox with over 160g of sugar.


Sweet lunchbox – Total sugar 135g (33 teaspoons)

Healthy lunchbox – Total sugar 28.8g (7 teaspoons)

Light lunchbox – Total sugar 31.9g (8 teaspoons)


Quick ways to reduce sugar in your child’s lunch box.

  1. Send a bottle of water rather than drink, especially high sugar drinks.
  2. Choose low or no sugar yogurts & snacks ‘natural’ or ‘low fat’ can be full of sugar so its always best to read food labels.
  3. Reduce the amount of processed or packaged items to 1 per day and choose a low-sugar option such as popcorn, rice crackers, cheese & wholegrain crackers.
  4. Pack fresh fruit and vegetables rather than juices or processed fruits.
  5. Teach your children to read food labels and what they mean.

Use the Healthy Lunch Box website from the Cancer Council to grab some great ideas for packing a healthy lunch. Your kids can use this online tool too and ‘pack’ their own healthy lunch online and see the results.

Lunch Box examples and sugar amounts from the Sydney Morning Herald article – 


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