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School meals can 'tempt' fussy eaters

3rd September 2010

New research has found that school lunches can tempt children to experiment and try new foods.

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A survey for the School Fund Trust found that children were prepared to try food at school that they had never eaten in their own homes.

They found that four out of five children who ate school lunches in England tried different food at school.

And half of the 1,000 parents questioned in the study said that children then asked for such foods to be cooked at home.

Most popular vegetables were carrots, sweetcorn, peas and broccoli. Cucumber and tomato were also high on the list.

England's School Food Trust commissioned the research after a survey by the Mumsnet website suggested some parents gave their children packed lunches because they thought they were too fussy to eat anything else.

Trust chairman Rob Rees said: "Every parent knows it's a nightmare watching their child push food around the plate. School meals can be a great way to help parents encourage their children to try new foods and to increase the variety of foods in their diet."

Mumsnet co-founder, Carrie Longton, said: “From Mumsnetters' experience it seems that once at school there's a desire to fit in with everyone else and even some positive peer pressure to boast about the variety of what foods you can eat.”

She said school meals had improved significantly in recent years with better variety and healthier options.

Figures show that about 40% of primary school children in England eat school lunches.

 

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