Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Tuesday, 24 June 2008 16:39 UK

'Snub' for healthy school meals

School meal
Less than half of Scotland's school pupils currently eat school lunches

School dinners have been attracting fewer customers in secondary schools, despite efforts to make them healthier.

Figures released by the Scottish Government have indicated a drop of 2% over the last year.

Overall, an increased take-up among primary children has seen the numbers rise by 1% but that still means just 47% of all pupils eat school lunches.

The government said it would take time to win over older children with "bad habits".

Adam Ingram, minister for children and young people, said: "Under the new regulations being introduced in schools, we aim to educate young palates and help young people to make good food choices."

Encouraging increases

The new food regulations mean that primary schools will remove sweets and fizzy drinks from sale and chips will only be served as part of an overall balanced and nutritional meal from next term.

Secondary schools are not expected to move on to the healthier menus until 3 August 2009 to allow them more time to prepare.

Mr Ingram added: "Some local authorities are showing encouraging increases in uptake of school meals, which indicates that there are lessons to be learned from their success."

The appetite for school dinners has seen the rise in primary school uptake, partly driven by the popularity of the free school meals pilot for all pupils in primaries one to three in five local authorities.

However, the number of secondary school pupils choosing to eat school meals has fallen from 44.9% in 2007 to 42.9% in 2008.

Conservative spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "Healthy food is one way of combating Scotland's rising obesity epidemic but we must look at adopting other measures as well - a greater focus on physical and outdoor education for example.

"In addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle, these types of extra-curricular programmes help young people to learn new skills, to enjoy new responsibility, and to appreciate the work of other people."


SEE ALSO
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21 May 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
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12 May 08 |  North East/N Isles

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