A project funded by Nestlé and 2 Sisters claims to have encouraged children to reject fizzy drinks and chocolate in favour of water and fruit.

The PhunkyFoods programme, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, promotes healthy eating and physical activity in 1,500 UK schools. And research carried out by Leeds Beckett University suggested it was having a positive effect on pupils taking part, with year two pupils, aged six and seven, saying they were “consuming fewer fizzy drinks, chocolates, sweets, biscuits and cakes,” and year four pupils - aged eight and nine - saying they consumed more water and fruit and fewer fizzy drinks.

Children were scored using a “Healthy Lifestyle Knowledge Questionnaire” against a control group that had not taken part. Year two pupils taking part in the programme scored 2% higher in physical activity knowledge than pupils that had not taken part, while year four pupils scored 5% higher when asked questions relating to a healthy lifestyle.

“The research demonstrates we are able to help schools engage children in healthy eating and physical activity in a way that really connects with them,” said Sorrell Fearnall, MD of Purely Nutrition, which delivers the PhunkyFoods Programme.

“This type of education is a powerful tool,” said Nestlé UK & Ireland CEO Fiona Kendrick. “To help children understand the values of healthy eating, nutrition and physical activity, enabling them to lead healthier lifestyles today and in the future.”