27/12/2010 18:14 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

School Lunches Can Make Kids Fat

It's hard to believe, but a forthcoming study in America has shown that eating school meals can make children fat. But the news isn't all bad.

We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, setting us up for work, but it can also help offset the effects of obesity in children who just have a school lunch.

Parents are now being encouraged to let their children skip breakfast at home and enrol in the school breakfast programme, if there is one.The study was carried out by researchers at Georgia State University who analysed data from 13,500 children taking part in the National School Lunch Programme.

"If they participate in both, they're lighter; if lunch only, they're heavier," said Rusty Tchernis, associate professor and the study's co-author.

He said overweight children were more likely to become obese adults so the only way to prevent that was to make sure children were a healthy weight.

The breakfasts are free for everyone, which removes the stigma of free school meals plus it gives parents peace of mind that their children are eating in the morning every day.

Surely if the school is providing both meals they would be equally nutritious and healthy and not likely to increase children's weight. But it does raise the possibility that those who are not eating a school breakfast are not eating breakfast at all and then filling up on snacks.

"Don't let them skip breakfast and if there is a school breakfast program in your school, enrol your kids in it," Tchernis said.

More than 30 million children in America receive free or low-cost lunches through the National School Lunch Programme, according to its website.

Do you make your children eat breakfast? What sort of healthy food do you provide for that first important meal?