A child who eats well will read well

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FAMILY TIES -

A NEW study by re­searchers in Fin­land has found that a healthy diet can help im­prove chil­dren’s read­ing skills in the first three years of school.

Car­ried out by re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Eastern Fin­land and the Univer­sity of Jyväskylä, the study fol­lowed 161 school­child­ren aged six to eight years old, from the first to third grade.

The team an­a­lysed the chil­dren’s di­ets us­ing food di­aries, and as­sessed aca­demic skills us­ing stan­dard­ised tests.

The more the chil­dren’s di­ets fol­lowed the Baltic Sea Diet and Fin­nish nu­tri­tion rec­om­men­da­tions – which ad­vise a diet high in veg­eta­bles, fruit and berries, fish, whole grains, and un­sat­u­rated fats, and low in red meat, sug­ary prod­ucts, and sat­u­rated fat – the health­ier the diet was con­sid­ered to be.

The re­sults, pub­lished on­line in the Euro­pean Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion, showed that chil­dren who fol­lowed a healthy diet in line with the Baltic Sea Diet and Fin­nish nu­tri­tion rec­om­men­da­tions, per­formed bet­ter in tests that mea­sure read­ing skills than chil­dren who ate an un­health­ier diet.

The re­sults were in­de­pen­dent of many other fac­tors in­clud­ing so­cio-economic sta­tus, phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, body adi­pos­ity (body fat), and phys­i­cal fit­ness, lead­ing the team to sug­gest that par­ents, schools and gov­ern­ments could help to im­prove read­ing skills just by im­prov­ing the avail­abil­ity of healthy foods.

The study’s find­ings also pro­vide fur­ther ev­i­dence to sug­gest the im­por­tance of a healthy diet on aca­demic per­for­mance.

Re­search by Ox­ford Univer­sity pub­lished in 2013 in PLOS ONE also found that lev­els of omega-3 fatty acids “sig­nif­i­cantly pre­dicted” school­child­ren’s abil­ity to con­cen­trate and learn, with higher lev­els of omega-3, nor­mally found in oily fish such as salmon, as­so­ci­ated with bet­ter read­ing and mem­ory and fewer be­havioural prob­lems. – AFPRe­laxnews

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