FOOD FOR THE MIND
Rising obesity rates, increasing food insecurity and the growing recognition across the world that nutrition is critical to the healthy development of young students are coming together to create a sense of urgency around efforts to educate children and their parents about healthy eating. Recent studies have demonstrated that nutrition affects students' thinking skills, behaviour and health – all factors that impact academic performance. One study found that fifth-grade students with less nutritious diets performed worse on a standardised literary assessment, while another study discovered that fifth-grade students who ate more fast food fared worse on math and reading assessments. Diets high in trans and saturated fats have been found to be particularly damaging to cognitive abilities, while a nutritious diet improves students' concentration, boosts energy levels and even reduces stress. “Good nutrition impacts children's health, wellbeing and learning, and if children are not adequately nourished during childhood, the impact can last a lifetime,” said Sara Kirk, a professor of health promotion at Dalhousie University in Canada.