A new study published by University of East Anglia (UEA) Health and Social Care Partners in collaboration with Norfolk County Council is the first to investigate the association between fruit and vegetable intakes, breakfast and lunch choices and mental wellbeing in school children.
The study reveals that eating more fruit and veggies are linked with better wellbeing among secondary school pupils in particular. And children who consumed five or more portions of fruit and veggies a day had the highest scores for mental wellbeing.
The importance of nutrition and physical health cannot be overemphasized. However, not much has been known about whether nutrition plays a part in children’s emotional wellbeing. The researchers discovered that the types of breakfast and lunch eaten by both primary and secondary school pupils were also significantly associated with wellbeing.
Children who ate a traditional breakfast experienced better wellbeing than those who only had a snack or drink. But secondary school children who drank energy drinks for breakfast had particularly low mental wellbeing scores, even lower than for those children consuming no breakfast at all.
The study shows the important role healthy nutrition plays at an individual and societal level, nutrition represents an important public health target for strategies to address childhood mental wellbeing.
In summary, 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 optimise mental wellbeing and empower children to fulfil their full potential. Parents should ensure that they provide healthy meals for their children.