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Parents tasked with preparing school lunches might reach for convenient packaged foods, but the author of a new study says kids across Canada aren’t eating enough nutritious food during school hours.

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Parents tasked with preparing school lunches might reach for convenient packaged foods, but the author of a new study says kids across Canada aren't eating enough nutritious food during school hours.

Claire Tugault-Lafleur, a PhD candidate in the University of British Columbia's human nutrition program, says the study is the first to analyze differences in dietary intake patterns between school hours and non-school hours.

The study published today in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism examined the latest data from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey involving over 4,800 children between the ages of six and 17.

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Tugault-Lafleur says researchers used an index of 11 key components of a healthy diet examining all the food and drinks kids consumed between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., and the average score was 53.4 out of 100 points.

She says children in Quebec had the highest score and kids in Newfoundland and Labrador were at the bottom of the list.

The lowest scores were for dark green and orange vegetables, fruit, whole grains and milk and alternatives.

Tugault-Lafleur says that since 2004, all provinces have issued guidelines affecting foods sold at schools, whether in vending machines or cafeterias.

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