Efforts to get children to eat healthier school meals may have prompted a drop in the number of pupils taking them at all, it was claimed today.
A survey for BBC News found that schools cited drives including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's high-profile campaign for a fall in the number of children taking school dinners this term amid new, more nutritious menus.
BBC News said that of 59 authorities which responded to the survey, in more than half - 35 areas - the number had gone down.
Of those, 71 per cent believed Jamie Oliver's campaign was a reason, BBC News Online reported.
Six areas said that they had more pupils taking meals while eight reported no change and 10 said the changes were not applicable.
Two-thirds also said children did not like the new menus.
Some areas told the BBC that the warm weather in autumn and smaller numbers of school age children may also have been behind the apparent decline.
Overall the drop in the number of children taking school meals was 5.8 per cent, though individual schools had seen decreases of as much as 30 per cent, the BBC reported.Reuse content