A child who eats well will read well
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