- A new study in the United Kingdom found higher fruit and vegetable intake is strongly linked to better mental health in secondary schoolchildren.
- The study authors wrote that they hope their research will encourage officials to make good nutrition available to all students.
- To explore whether dietary choices may be linked to mental health, the researchers used surveys from more than 50 schools in the U.K. In total, nearly 11,000 students completed the survey.
New research is showing that a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables can also be good for the mind, especially if you’re a growing kid.
Research published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health shows that higher fruit and vegetable intake is strongly linked to better mental health in secondary schoolchildren. Furthermore, the research shows a nutritious breakfast and lunch are associated with emotional well-being, no matter your age.
“It is nice to see research that focuses on children, good nutrition, and its effects on mental health. There seems to be more stress and anxiety in children now, especially with the pandemic and being home for so long away from their peers and family,” said Audrey Koltun, RDN, CDCES, CDN, who specializes in pediatric endocrinology at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of NY.
To explore whether dietary choices may be linked to mental health, the researchers used surveys from more than 50 schools in the United Kingdom. In total, nearly 11,000 students completed the survey (with 8,823 valid surveys) and the evidence showed that the average mental health score was 46.6 out of 70 for secondary school kids and 46 out of 60 for primary school kids.
Of these, only 25 percent of secondary schoolchildren and 28.5 percent of primary schoolchildren reported eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Ten percent and nine percent, respectively, ate no fruits and vegetables. Around 21 percent of secondary school kids and 12 percent of primary school students ate only a non-energy drink or nothing for breakfast, while 11 percent ate no lunch.
The research found that students who ate one or two daily portions of fruit and vegetables scored 1.42 units higher, while eating three or four portions showed an increase of 2.34 units. Those who ate five or more portions had a score of 3.73 units higher.