Families are spending more than a quarter of their food budget on eating out and demanding healthier choices than ever before, according to the latest government figures.
The Family Food Report 2002/03, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, investigated trends in family food consumption at home and in pubs, restaurants and cafés since 1975.
It discovered families are eating more fresh fruit and less fatty food than in previous years.
Eating out was found to be very popular among families, although how much they spent on meals in pubs and restaurants varied across the country.
In the South West families spend little more than a quarter of their food expenditure on eating out, while Londoners spend 38.4 per cent of their food budget out of the home.
When having a meal, the trend for healthier options is clear. While the amount of alcoholic drinks consumed out of the home has dropped by four per cent from 2001/02, the consumption of salads has risen by 3.5 per cent and the amount of fatty food eaten dropped.
Clare Gane, food marketing manager at Greene King, said pubs were already responding to these trends.
"Now that families are increasingly dining out and the occasion is becoming a way of life, pubs have a responsibility to provide parents with healthy food for their children," she said.
"We are in the process of developing a 100 per cent healthy children's menu which will be offered throughout the Greene King estate as an alternative, that gives parents a choice."
The Publican has launched a campaign to improve the standards of children's food in pubs. Click hereto find out more about Pint-Sized Portions.