Southeast Asia Globe - - Education Special -

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.

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