Study links eating vegetables and higher NAPLAN scores

Friday, August 18, 2017

A new study has shown a link between school-aged children who eat more vegetables and higher academic results.

The study looked at the diets and NAPLAN scores of 4200 Australian children aged 8–15, in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

Data was gathered on fruit and vegetable intake, as well as the consumption of takeaway food, sugar-sweetened beverages and breakfast. The researchers also collected the children’s scores in the five areas of NAPLAN – reading, writing, grammar and punctuation, spelling and numeracy.

The research findings were adjusted for socioeconomic status and gender.

The study showed that greater consumption of vegetables with the evening meal was associated with higher NAPLAN test scores in spelling and writing. The greatest effect observed was for spelling.

Increased consumption of sugar sweetened beverages was associated with significantly lower test scores in reading, writing, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy.

The study’s authors – from the University of Newcastle and University of New England, in Australia, and the University of Colorado, in the USA – said the aim of the study was to expand the research into dietary behaviours and children's academic achievement, as previous research had predominately focused on breakfast consumption.

The researchers said future research should further explore relationships between a wide range of dietary behaviours and children's academic achievement.

Kitchen Garden Foundation CEO, Rebecca Naylor, said it was wonderful that research was focusing on the impact of good nutrition on learning.

“Good, real food is fundamental for children to be able to take full advantage of the school education that we all know they have a right to,” Rebecca said.

“They should also have a right to food education, so that they have the opportunity to learn lifelong positive food behaviours and have the best possible start in life.

“It is becoming more and more obvious that those not provided with fresh food to feed their bodies and minds are the most disadvantaged. So, let’s keep this discussion going.”

Click here for more information on the study, Associations between selected dietary behaviours and academic achievement: A study of Australian school aged children.

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