pizzaDespite the ongoing message of the importance of eating a balanced diet, and the growing threat of childhood obesity, it seems that secondary school children are choosing fast food for their lunch.

Nutritionists at Sheffield University studied 2,660 pupils from two schools in Yorkshire about their food choices and published the results in Public Health Nutrition.

It discovered that despite healthy choices on offer, many pupils shun them for pizza, sandwiches and puddings. Interestingly, children who receive free school meals (FSM), were more likely to pick nutritious options, as they may be less likely to receive healthy choices at home.

In the UK, it is estimated that 28% of girls and 31% of boys aged between two and 15 are classed as obese. More than three million eat a school meal every day, which has a huge impact on obesity and nutrition, which are public health priorities due to the threat of chronic and life-threatening diseases, and the huge burden they place on the NHS.

Lead author Dr Hannah Ensaff, from the University's Department of Oncology, said: "Healthy eating habits are crucial to reducing children's risk of health problems, both long and short-term. The school food environment is an obvious public health intervention, particularly as children today seem to rely more on school food than decades ago."