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Consistent Healthy Eating Linked to Academic Achievement

April 1, 2008

Kids who eat fruits and vegetables are likely to perform better on academic assessments, according to a new study published in the Journal of School Health. The study tracked the dietary habits of 5,000 fifth-graders whose diet quality was measured by their intake of essential nutrients like calcium, fiber and vitamin C, as well as their consumption of salt, saturated fat, and other problematic foods. The data was adjusted to account for sociodemographic data while also taking into account further quantifiable differences such as height and weight. Researchers found that students with higher quality diets were as much as 41% less likely to fail standard reading assessments than their peers with lower-quality diets. This study expands upon previously established links between breakfast consumption and school performance, and emphasizes the importance of consistent healthy eating, which is often unattainable for children living in food-insecure households. Researchers encouraged schools to emphasize nutrition and free meals programs, stating that “these findings support the broader implementation and investment in effective school nutrition programs that have the potential to improve student’s diet quality, academic performance, and, over the long term, their health.”

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