Food Outlet Case Study

‘Out of School’ Foods - How Healthy Are They?koka noodles

Pupils who eat out of school at lunchtime might be getting a lot more than they bargain for, when they buy their lunch. In September 2011, researchers from the Glasgow Centre for Population Health visited neighbourhoods near five schools in Glasgow during one school lunchtime to find out where secondary school pupils bought their lunch if they ate off-campus, and what foods were popular. They found lots of outlets near schools and plenty of lunchtime offers. 

koka noodles

koka noodles







The most popular food was chips with rolls, curry sauce, gravy, cheese etc.  Sausage rolls and pizza were also favourites. The cheapest item was a sausage roll costing 64 pence and the most expensive was a pizza slice and chips costing £2.50.  The graph below shows the price range of popular foods.

Cost per Savoury Food Itemclick on graph to expand

Many of the popular foods didn’t come with food labelling, so the researchers sent 45 of them to the lab to have them analysed and compared with Scottish Government recommendations for healthy amounts of fat and salt.  Over half of the foods contained far too much fat and a third contained too much salt.  For example, one of the meals shown in the photos below (the doner kebab and chips) contained 80 grams of fat.  This is nearly the maximum recommended fat intake for men for a whole day (95 grams) and is greater than the maximum recommended intake for women and children over the course of a day (70 grams).  

Doner Kebab

sausage rollsausage roll







The graphs below show the energy, fat and salt content of the food samples compared with the
nutritional standards for school meals with which all schools in Scotland have to comply.

sausage rollclick on graph to expand

sausage rollclick on graph to expand

Salt Content per Savoury Food Itemclick on graph to expand

These results confirm that popular out-of-school foods are generally very unhealthy indeed.  One of the recommendations from this research is that outlets in neighbourhoods near schools should make more effort to sell tasty, healthy, cheap food to pupils who eat out of school at lunchtime rather than promoting and selling poor quality, unhealthy food.  You can read more about this research on the GCPH website here