Posted on Tue, 18 Oct 16
A better quality diet may improve academic achievement in schoolchildren, according to a new study from Finland.
Poor diet quality is very common in children and may deprive developing brains of nutrients required for mental health and academic achievement.
A few studies have previously explored the possibility that better nutrition could improve achievement, finding that high consumption of vegetables, fruit, berries, fish, and nuts in childhood and adolescence are related to better cognitive functions and academic achievement in later years, point out the authors of the new study.
By looking at dietary intakes and markers of academic performance over subsequent years researchers found that better diet quality in grade 1 was associated with better academic achievement, especially reading skills across grades 1 to 3. These improvements were independent of reading skills in grade 1, further strengthening the association.
“Our results provide one of the first evidence on the longitudinal associations of diet quality with academic achievement in children and can be used in planning interventions aimed at increasing academic performance in children,” said the study investigators.
“Poor academic achievement in childhood has been linked to increased risk of adulthood obesity, unemployment, and low socioeconomic positioning in adulthood, suggesting that it is important to identify possibilities to support academic achievement in childhood,” they also noted. Better nutrition appears to be just such an opportunity.
Haapala EA, Eloranta AM, Venäläinen T, et al. Diet quality and academic achievement: a prospective study among primary school children. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Sep 9. [Epub ahead of print]