Eating a balanced diet packed with fruits and vegetables are always healthy. When coming to children and their diet, a new study shows that children who eat a better diet, packed with fruit and vegetables have better mental well-being.
The researchers from the University of East Anglia claimed the study was the first to look into the association between fruit and vegetable intakes, breakfast and lunch choices, and mental wellbeing in UK school children. The study looked particularly on the link between eating more fruit and vegetables with better well being among secondary school pupils.
HIGH SCORE OF MENTAL WELLBEING
The researchers claimed that children who consumed five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day had the highest scores for mental well-being. They said that public health strategies and school policies should be developed to ensure that good quality nutrition is available to all children before and during school to optimise mental well being and empower children to fulfil their full potential.
Lead researcher Prof Ailsa Welch said: “We know that poor mental well-being is a major issue for young people and is likely to have long-term negative consequences. The pressures of social media and modern school culture have been touted as potential reasons for a rising prevalence of low mental well being in children and young people. And there is a growing recognition of the importance of mental health and well-being in early life – not least because adolescent mental health problems often persist into adulthood, leading to poorer life outcomes and achievement.”
The team analysed data from about 9,000 children in 50 schools across Norfolk. The Public Health department of Norfolk County Council and the Norfolk Safeguarding Children Board commissioned the study. Children involved in the study self-reported their dietary choices and took part in age-appropriate tests of mental wellbeing that covered cheerfulness, relaxation, and having good interpersonal relationships.
Prof Welch said that only around a quarter of secondary school children and 28 per cent of primary-school children reported eating the recommended five-a-day fruits and vegetables. One in ten children were not eating any fruits or vegetables. More than one in five secondary school children and one in 10 primary children did not eat breakfast. More than one in 10 secondary school children did not eat lunch, the researchers noted.
Dr Richard Hayhoe said: “We found that eating well was associated with better mental wellbeing in children. And that among secondary school children in particular, there was a really strong link between eating a nutritious diet, packed with fruit and vegetables, and having better mental wellbeing.