The study was led by the University of East Anglia (UAE) Health and Social Care Partners in collaboration with Norfolk County Council. The results of the study were published in the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention and Health.
This study is the first to explore the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake, breakfast rush and lunch choices, and mental health in UK school children.
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It shows how eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with better health, especially among high school students. And children who ate five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day had the highest scores for mental well-being.
The research team said that public health strategies and school policies should be developed to ensure that good quality nutrition is available to all children before and during school to optimize mental well-being and empower children to meet their full potential.
“We know that poor mental health is a big problem for young people and can have long-term negative consequences,” said Professor Ailsa Welch, lead researcher from Norwich Medical School in the UAE.
“The pressures of social media and modern school culture have been cited as a potential cause for the growing prevalence of low mental health among children and young people. Leading to the outcome and achievement of a poor life, ”Welch added.
“Although the relationship between nutrition and physical health is well understood, so far, not much is known about whether nutrition plays a role in children’s mental well-being,” Welch added.
The research team studied data from about 10,000,000 children (50,770 secondary and 1,253 primary school children) in 50 schools in Norfolk and data from the Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Survey.
The survey was conducted by the Norfolk County Council’s Department of Public Health and the Norfolk Safeguarding Children’s Board. During October 2017 it was open to all Norfolk schools.
The children involved in the study self-reported their food choices and took part in age-appropriate tests of mental well-being that included spirits, relaxation, and good interpersonal relationships.
Welch said, “In terms of nutrition, we found that about a quarter of high school children and 28 percent of primary school children reported eating the recommended five-day fruit and vegetable diet, and only one in ten did not eat any fruit or vegetables.” . ”
“More than one in five secondary school children and one in 10 primary school children did not eat breakfast.
The team looked at the connection between nutritional factors and mental well-being and considered other factors that could have an impact – such as childhood adverse experiences and home conditions.
Dr Richard Richard Heiho from Norwich Medical School in the UAE also said, “We have found that eating well is associated with better mental health in children. With fruits and vegetables, and better mental health.”
“We also found that breakfast and lunch by primary and secondary school students were also significantly associated with wellness,” Dr. Hay Heiho added.
“Those who ate a typical breakfast rush experienced better recovery than just breakfast or drinks. But high school children who drank energy drinks for breakfast had a particularly good mental health score, even lower than those who did not have breakfast,” said Dr. Hay Heiho explained.
“According to our data, in a class of 30 high school students, about 21 will have a conventional breakfast, and at least four will not be able to eat or drink anything before class starts in the morning. Similarly, at least three students will be in lunch class without lunch This is a matter of concern, and can affect not only academic performance in school, but also physical growth and development, “Dr. Hay Haiho noted.
“Another interesting thing we found was that nutrition had as much or more impact on well-being as regular quarrels or violence at home,” Dr. Hay Heiho added.
“As a potential changeable factor at the individual and social level, nutrition represents an important public health goal for strategies to address childhood mental well-being,” Welch said.
Welch concluded, “Public health strategies and school policies should be developed to ensure that good quality nutrition is available to all children before and during school so that mental health is favorable and children are empowered to meet their full potential.”
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