The chain is renowned for its healthy sandwiches, wraps and soups.

But Pret’s new children’s menu, launched yesterday, has sparked controversy among nutritionists.

Made for four to 10 year olds, sandwiches, toasties and snack pots are on offer. 

However, Dr Julie Lanigan, a specialist paediatric dietitian, said they should be made with more salad and less salt and sugar, as well as being served in smaller portions.

While the menu could help parents grab a ‘healthy lunch for a child while on the move’, the serving size could lead to ‘overeating and excess weight gain’. 

Campaigners and charities warned that the sandwiches equate to 50 per cent of a child’s daily limit for salt and have minimal vegetables and could create ‘a potential health risk if consumed regularly’. 

Dr Lanigan, who is also a research dietitian at University College London, told MailOnline that the offering ‘could be suitable for children as part of a healthy balanced diet’. 

However, she said it ‘could be improved’ by including more salad in the sandwiches and using reduced salt fillings. 

Additionally, a plain yoghurt could be offered alongside a piece of fresh fruit, rather than the mango puree to reduce sugar and increase fibre, Dr Lanigan said.

‘A salad could be offered with the pizza toastie which could be offered as a smaller portion,’ she suggested.

The nutritional information accompanying the foods is ‘based on adults which is not appropriate for children’, Dr Lanigan noted. 

WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE? 

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

  • Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
  • Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
  • 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on
  • Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower-fat and lower-sugar options
  • Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
  • Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
  • Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
  • Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide  

Pret’s website states that ‘adults need around 2,000 calories a day’. However, the average seven-year-old girl, for example, needs just 1,500.

Dr Lanigan said: ‘Pret could help parents by providing portion size guidance applicable to children of different ages. 

‘Large portion sizes may lead to overeating and excess weight gain. 

‘This is an important consideration given that a significant proportion of children in the UK have excess weight.’

Latest figures show that around a third of 10-year-olds in England are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has been a growing issue for years, with easy access to fast food, more screen time and sedentary lifestyles blamed for spiralling rates.

She added: ‘It is important to bear in mind that these would be occasional meals for children and not eaten everyday. The menu could help parents construct a healthy lunch for a child while on the move.’ 

Sonia Pombo, a registered nutritionist and campaign lead at Action on Salt, told MailOnline: ‘It’s disappointing to see Pret, an international sandwich shop chain, has not been more responsible when designing this kids menu. 

‘What could have been an opportunity to offer healthy options to the nation’s children, instead provides a limited range of sandwiches all equating to 50 per cent or more of a child’s maximum daily limit for salt, minimal vegetables, and a “pizza”.

‘Surely our children deserve better.’

June O’Sullivan OBE and chief executive officer of the London Early Years Foundation, told MailOnline: ‘Given the amount of action that has been taken to tackle problems in children’s nutritional health, it’s frustrating to see that one of Britain’s leading sandwich shops chains is serving up its new menu, aimed specifically at those aged four to 10, with food high in salt and sugar which creates a potential health risk if consumed regularly. 

‘With nearly one in four London children in primary school now obese, the food industry has a moral obligation to put the health of our future generation first.’

Dr Duane Mellor, a dietitian based at Aston University in Birmingham, told MailOnline: ‘With some of these items containing about a third of a teaspoon of salt, this is about half the recommended salt intake of a four to six year old.

‘It is good to see some of these options include fruit and vegetables.

‘But it is important that these sandwiches are simpler sandwiches that are made with two slices of bread, so may be ideal portion size for a older child, but may be a little large for a pre-school aged child.

‘It is important to introduce children to a range of healthy foods and flavours in a portion size that are appropriate for the age of the child.’ 

The mango and banana yoghurt pot, part of Pret’s children’s menu, today came under fire for containing a whopping 7.9g of sugar per serving.

For comparison, a mini bag of Haribo Starmix has 7.5g.

The NHS recommends that children aged four to six should have no more than 19g of free sugars per day, while seven to 10-year-olds should limit intake to 24g.

This only applies to sugar added to foods, such as flavoured yoghurts, cereal and fizzy drinks, or those found naturally in fruit juices, smoothies and honey. 

Health chiefs don’t set limits on the sugar found in fruit, vegetables and milk.

The Pret treat is made with natural yoghurt, mango and banana purees, coconut milk, mango and lemon juice, along with turmeric. 

Per 100g, it has 100 calories, 8g of sugar, 0.3g of fibre and 6g of protein.

The chain said just 1g of its sugar content came from fruit purees, while the rest was from lactose — a sugar found naturally in dairy products. 

Meanwhile, Haribo is made with sugars, fruit juice from concentrate and flavourings.

Per 100g, Starmix contains 342 calories, 47g of sugar and 6.6g of protein.

However, it is served in 16g packs, while Pret’s yoghurt comes in a nearly 100g pot.

The Pret kids menu also includes cheese, ham and chicken and cucumber sandwiches on malted bread, a pizza toastie and humus and cucumber snack pot.

However, the ham sandwich and pizza toastie contain more than half of the maximum daily recommended salt intake for a child aged four to six (1.64g and 1.57g, respectively). 

It is also around a third of the up to 5g limit advised for seven to 10 year olds.

Rob Hobson, registered nutritionist based in London and author of Unprocess Your Life, warned that the Pret kids yoghurt is more of a ‘sweet treat’ than a healthy snack.

He told The Telegraph: ‘Yoghurt is healthy, but that fruit puree at the bottom is really sugary. So you are maybe better to have a plainer yoghurt and some fresh fruit. A better option might be the sandwich and some fruit.

‘You would be better off picking some fruit or maybe going to buy a yoghurt that has less sugar and checking the back of the packet.’

Hannah Hope, a nutritionist based in St Albans, told the newspaper: ‘Pret may have been better opting for a plain yoghurt with berries in for a lower sugar option for children.’

A Pret spokesperson said: ‘Comparing the serving sizes of a 100g yogurt pot and a 16g bag of sweets is incredibly misleading.

‘Like-for-like, there is six times more sugar per gram in Haribo sweets compared to our Kids’ Mango & Banana Yogurt Pot. 

‘Our kids yogurt pot is made up of simple ingredients, which contain naturally occurring sugars, and gives children far more nutritional value than a pack of sweets. 

‘We always provide all the relevant nutritional information so customers can make the right choice for them or their children.’

What on the Pret Little Stars menu for kids?

Kids’ Cheese Triangles

Kids' Cheese Triangles

Kids’ Cheese Triangles

Calories: 364

Fat: 12.4g

Saturates: 7.4g

Carbohydrates: 40.9g

Sugar: 3.3g

Fibre: 5g

Protein: 19.8g

Salt: 1.42g 

Kids’ Ham Triangles

Kids' Ham Triangles

Kids’ Ham Triangles

Calories: 279

Fat: 7g

Saturates: 3.8g

Carbohydrates: 37.7g

Sugar: 2.9g

Fibre: 5g

Protein: 13.8g

Salt: 1.64g

Kids’ Chicken & Cucumber Triangles

Kids' Chicken & Cucumber Triangles

Kids’ Chicken & Cucumber Triangles

Calories: 372

Fat: 14.8g

Saturates: 1.5g

Carbohydrates: 38.7g

Sugar: 3.4g

Fibre: 5g

Protein: 18.6g

Salt: 1.53g

Kids' Pizza Toastie

Kids’ Pizza Toastie

Kids’ Pizza Toastie

Calories: 396

Fat: 15.3g

Saturates: 6.5g

Carbohydrates: 42.7g

Sugar: 4.8g

Fibre: 5.5g

Protein: 19.3g

Salt: 1.57g

Kids’ Mango & Banana Yogurt Pot 

Kids' Mango & Banana Yogurt Pot

Kids’ Mango & Banana Yogurt Pot

Calories: 99

Fat: 4.2g

Saturates: 2.6g

Carbohydrates: 9.1g

Sugar: 7.9g

Fibre: 0.3g

Protein: 6

Salt: 0.17g

Kids’ Humous & Cucumber Bowl

Kids' Humous & Cucumber Bowl

Kids’ Humous & Cucumber Bowl

Calories: 116

Fat: 8.6g

Saturates: 1g 

Carbohydrates: 5.1g 

Sugar: 1g

Fibre: 2.9g

Protein: 2.9g

Salt: 0.31g

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