A new Finnish study suggests a healthy diet is linked to better reading skills in the first three years of school.
The study involved 161 children aged six to eight years old, with researchers following the students from the first grade to the third grade.
The quality of their diet was analyzed using food diaries, and their academic skills with the help of standardized tests.
The study showed that children whose diet was rich in vegetables, fruit, berries, whole grain, fish, and unsaturated fats, and low in sugary products, did better in tests measuring reading skills than their peers with a poorer diet quality.
The study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, also found that the positive associations of diet quality with reading skills in grades two and three were independent of reading skills in grade one.
These results indicate that children with healthier diets improved more in their reading skills from grade one to grades two to three than children with poorer diet quality.
“Another significant observation is that the associations of diet quality with reading skills were also independent of many confounding factors, such as socio-economic status, physical activity, body adiposity, and physical fitness.” says researcher Eero Haapala, Ph.D., from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä.
Investigators believe a healthy diet is an important factor in supporting learning and academic performance in children. By making healthy choices every meal, it is possible to promote a healthy diet and enhance diet quality.
Parents and schools have an important role in making healthy foods available to children. Furthermore, governments and companies play a key role in promoting the availability and production of healthy foods.
Source: University of Jyväskylä