Lift the lunchbox to get kids healthier, happier, smarter

In the back-to-school rush, Cancer Council Queensland is urging parents to buck trends and prioritise healthy lunchboxes to keep their kids healthier, happier and smarter.

Research shows a strong link between diet and brain power, with children achieving better grades, learning more, thinking clearer and building better memory when fuelled with healthy food.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was easy for the lunchbox to be left until last on the back-to-school list.

“New stationary, books, uniforms, timetables, backpacks – the list is almost endless when preparing for term one, and healthy, nourishing food choices are often forgotten,” Ms Clift said.

“Let’s start the school year on the right track with the right meals, enabling our kids to concentrate better, have more fun and develop strong academic skills.

“A diet high in take-away foods, red and processed meat, soft drinks and processed foods can affect academic performance and a child’s ability to focus, respond appropriately and think clearly.”

Unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles are linked to a range of chronic diseases, including some cancers.

More than a quarter of Queensland children are currently overweight or obese, with health experts predicting the trend will worsen over time.

“You can build a healthy lunch with some key ingredients. Carbohydrate-based foods, like wholegrain bread, pasta, rice and couscous are great to keep hungry tummies fuller for longer!” Ms Clift said.

“Go for high-protein foods like lean meat, tinned tuna, egg or tofu. Protein-rich dairy foods like yoghurt and cheese are also good sources of calcium.

“Try and fill your child’s lunchbox with a healthy serve of fruits and vegetables – think mandarins, bananas, apples, pre-peeled oranges, snow peas or cherry tomatoes, they’re easy to eat!

“Water is the best choice as a drink to keep your kids hydrated throughout the day, or unflavoured, low-fat milk.

“Limit the intake of foods high in saturated fat – like biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, pizza, processed meats and potato chips, and avoid food and drinks containing added salt.”

Up to one-third of all cancers are preventable through simple lifestyle adjustments including eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in recommended physical activity.

Queensland schools, businesses and community groups are invited to join CCQ’s QUEST to make the healthy choice, the easy choice every day at

More information about Cancer Council Queensland via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or on our website.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171