Tue, Aug 15, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Many kids eat store-bought meals

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Children sit behind portions of food at a press conference held yesterday by the Children's Welfare League Foundation to promote healthy eating among children. The foundation found that a high percentage of children do not eat home-made meals and it recommended a standard meal for children should include one meat serving, two vegetable servings and three whole-grain servings.

PHOTO: CHU PEI-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

A high percentage of children in Taiwan do not eat home-made meals, the Children's Welfare League Foundation said yesterday.

The foundation surveyed 1,241 primary school children in Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Hualien in late June and found about 40 percent of them do not eat breakfast at home while close to 30 percent often take their meals outside the home.

Although more than 70 percent of the children said they preferred meals prepared by their parents, about 32 percent said they would be given money to buy meals when their parents were too busy to prepare food for them, the survey said.

These children would usually buy food from convenience stores, usually choosing lunch boxes, Japanese boiled hotchpotch or oden (known as Guandong boil [關東煮]), baked goods, and milk tea or juice, the foundation said.

Foundation chief executive officer Wang Yu-min (王育敏) said at a press conference that the foundation found that the food sold at convenience stores was sanitary, but may not provide sufficient nutrition for kids, especially in terms of fiber.

She added that most of the drinks sold at the stores contained excessive levels of caffeine for children, which may make it difficult for them to remain calm when they needed to concentrate on studies.

"The long-term intake of drinks with caffeine may contribute to caffeine dependence and even influence the development of the brain or intelligence," Hung Hsiu-ju (糸秀), a dietician from the Havo Healthcare Hospital, said. "Therefore, children should be prevented from drinking this type of beverage."

Close to 30 percent of those surveyed said they usually bought meals at food stands, the foundation said, adding that children's top choices were deep-fried chicken with salt, green onion pancakes and stir-fried chicken.

"About one-fifth of the children appear to be overweight. Those who eat more often at food stands have an even greater possibility of suffering from obesity," Wang said.

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