Good News: Healthy Diet for Kids may Help Improve Reading Skills

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According to a new Finnish study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, a healthy diet in the first 3 years of school is linked to enhanced reading skills.

The study involved a collaboration between University of Eastern Finland and University of Jyväskylä. For the research, 161 Finnish children aged 6 to 8 were studied, with researchers following the participants through their journey from 1st to 3rd grade.

The children and their parents kept a food diary to analyze the nutrition they received during these years. A healthy diet was considered the Baltic Sea Diet and what the Finnish government recommends for its nutrition guidelines. This included a diet high in vegetables, fruit, berries, fish, and whole grains. Kept to a minimum on their diets were red meat, sugary products, and saturated fat. [1]

The children’s academic standards were gauged by the academic standards of their respective schools and by national standardized testing.

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It was found that children with a healthier diet improved significantly in their reading skills from grade 1 to grades 2 and 3 than children who consumed more of the foods deemed unhealthy. However, the study showed that diet and reading skills didn’t seem to correlate in grade 1, but the healthier the diet, the more the improvement between then and the subsequent grades.

Researcher Eero Haapala, PhD, from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä, stated:

“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.” [2]

Scientists have stated that this study further proves the need for a healthy diet in children. They hope this will further motivate schools and companies to provide their students and workers with a healthy and quality diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar and unsaturated fats.

Finland has recently led the way in furthering children’s education by recommending that children get at least 3 hours of exercise per day. Studies and new research demonstrate that children who participate in aerobic activity each day perform better in school.

Sources:

[1] UPI

[2] Science Daily