According to a new survey conducted by Yoplait Dairy Crest's Frubes, 80% of children returning to school in 2007 will opt for a packed lunch rather than school dinners. The survey also found that school children and their parents are increasingly looking to healthy options to fill lunchboxes.

The survey of 326 seven to 12-year-olds revealed that 76% of children listed fruit as their most liked food and the food item most wanted in their lunch box. Other popular items included yoghurt, with 46% of respondents favouring it, and cereal bars, liked by 43% of kids. Bottom of the list, surprisingly perhaps, came sweets and candy with 31% and cake bars with 33%.

The children interviewed rated milk (83%), fruit (78%), yoghurt (72%), green vegetables (68%) and nuts and seeds (58%) as healthy, while Chicken McNuggets, crisps and chips were all perceived as less healthy. This, the authors of the survey suggested, demonstrates that healthy eating messages are getting through.
 
However, the survey also found that many children felt under pressure to eat healthily. "The fact that one in three children in this survey said they feel under pressure to eat healthily means they feel guilty about eating treats. It's important for kids to have a balanced diet and parents should work towards this rather than cutting out less healthy foods altogether," nutritionist Anita Bean said.

Despite the popularity of packed lunches, some problems were identified: over a quarter of kids (26%) complained about soggy sandwiches and food getting too warm by lunch (29%), but the biggest gripe is eating the same foods everyday (31%).
 
Pauline Vincente, Brand Manager, Frubes said: "There is a wealth of information available to parents about how and what to prepare for their children's lunchbox - it doesn't have to stop at the basic sandwich. The survey results prove that many children have the knowledge - they understand what is healthy and what is not. As parents, we need to ensure the healthy choice is an easy one for children to make by offering nutritious foods presented in a fun way."