Thu, Nov 22, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Bureau says 43% of lunchboxes have too many calories

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A survey by the Bureau of Food Safety found that 43 percent of lunchboxes sold by restaurants, stalls and convenience stores exceeded the Department of Health's recommendation for calorie intake per meal.

The department advises 700 Calories to 900 Calories per meal. Each meal should have 1.5 servings of vegetables.

The lunchbox survey included 16 samples from lunchbox chains and convenience stores in Taipei's Songshan District (松山). The bureau did not comment on the validity of a survey with only 16 samples.

The bureau found that 70 percent of the lunchboxes contained too much oil. Sixty percent contained a surplus of protein-rich food, while none included the recommended quantity of vegetables.

In terms of staple foods such as rice and noodles, all of the lunchboxes met the department's recommended serving size.

The survey was conducted as part of the department's "Challenge 1824" campaign. The number 1824 refers to body mass index (BMI), which should fall between 18 and 24.

The department asked nutritionists to select three of the healthier lunchboxes sampled to illustrate the need to limit oil and calorie intake and eat enough vegetables.

Huang Ya-huei (黃雅惠), a nutritionist at Taipei City Hospital, encouraged people to adopt a diet appropriate for their lifestyle.

Adults who sit in an office for long periods of time each day should consider cutting the amount of rice or noodles they consume, she said.

For those who spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen, Huang advised eating plenty of dark-green vegetables rich in vitamin A.

For those working under high pressure, Huang said eating extra servings of vegetables each day would help the body cope with stress and avoid constipation.

Huang recommended that consumers vary the lunchboxes they eat to keep a balanced diet. She also recommended avoiding lunchboxes with finely chopped vegetables, because they tend to absorb more oil.

Those aspiring to eat a healthy diet should also avoid deep-fried food and remove the skin of the meat when possible, she said.

Huang recommended adding a fresh salad, cucumber or fruit as a side dish with meals.

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