Healthy eaters are better readers


Friday, 16 September, 2016


A healthy diet is linked to better reading skills in the first three school years, according to a study from Finland.

Published in the European Journal of Nutrition, the study involved 161 children aged 6–8 years old, following them from the first grade to the third grade in school. The quality of their diet was analysed using food diaries, while standardised tests assessed their academic skills.

The study showed that children whose diet was rich in vegetables, fruit, berries, whole grains, 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 also found that the positive associations of diet quality with reading skills in Grades 2 and 3 were independent of reading skills in Grade 1. These results indicate that children with healthier diets improved more in their reading skills from Grade 1 to Grades 2–3 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 socioeconomic status, physical activity, body adiposity and physical fitness,” said Researcher Eero Haapala, PhD, from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä.

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