Noise and long waits were found to
put children off school mealsChildren are being put off eating healthy school meals by long queues and poor service, according to research by the Scottish Executive.
It found that primary school pupils disliked queues and listening to shouting and other noise.
Youngsters said they understood the benefits of healthy food but did not usually prefer it.
The consultation was carried out in June at 52 schools across Scotland with children aged five to 12.
Many schools release children for lunch at the same time, instead of organising different sittings.
The study suggested this was one important reason why youngsters were put off school dinners.
Researchers also discovered that children may be more inclined to eat healthily if a reward system was introduced for making healthy food choices.
The findings state: "In general, children of both age groups know about and understand the importance of eating five portions of fruits and vegetables each day.
"However, many do not achieve this.
"Many children chose as their favourite food things which are considered unhealthy and, given the choice between healthy and unhealthy, they will tend towards the unhealthy option."
Noise and shouting
But it warned that uptake would remain low unless the environment, service and overall experience of eating school dinners is not improved for children.
Factors singled out by children included noise, shouting, unappealing crockery and cutlery, long queues and the length of time involved.
In terms of healthy food, fish and salad were least appreciated, but pupils said they would be happy to see smoothies and exotic fruit like kiwi fruit and pineapples made more widely available.