A new study is the first to investigate the association between fruit and vegetable intakes, breakfast and lunch choices, and mental well-being in UK school children.
It shows how eating more fruit and veg is linked with better well-being among secondary school pupils in particular. And children who consumed five or more portions of fruit and veg a day had the highest scores for mental well-being.
Lead researcher Prof Ailsa Welch, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, 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 wellbeing in children and young people.
“And there is a growing recognition of the importance of mental health and wellbeing in early life — not least because adolescent mental health problems often persist into adulthood, leading to poorer life outcomes and achievement.
“While the links between nutrition and physical health are well understood, until now, not much has been known about whether nutrition plays a part in children’s emotional well-being. So, we set out to investigate the association between dietary choices and mental well-being among schoolchildren.“
Prof Welch said: “In terms of nutrition, we found that only around a quarter of secondary-school children and 28 percent of primary-school children reported eating the recommended five-a-day fruits and vegetables. And just under one in ten children were not eating any fruits or vegetables.
“As a potentially modifiable factor at an individual and societal level, nutrition represents an important public health target for strategies to address childhood mental well-being.
“Public health strategies and school policies should be developed to ensure that good quality nutrition is available to all children both before and during school in order to optimize mental wellbeing and empower children to fulfill their full potential.“
Source: Science Daily