Diet quality and academic achievement: a prospective study among primary school children
- 1.9k Downloads
Poor diet quality may impair academic achievement in children, but such evidence is limited. Therefore, we investigated the associations of healthy diet in Grade 1 assessed by Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), Baltic Sea Diet Score (BSDS), and Finnish Children Healthy Eating Index (FCHEI) with academic achievement in Grades 1–3 in children.
The participants were 161 Finnish children who were 6–8 years old in Grade 1 and attended in a large ongoing physical activity and dietary intervention study. Dietary factors were assessed using 4-day food records, and MDS, BSDS, and FCHEI were calculated. Academic achievement was assessed by reading fluency, reading comprehension, and arithmetic skill tests. The data were analyzed using linear regression analysis and analysis of covariance adjusted for age, sex, parental education, household income, body fat percentage, physical activity, the PANIC Study group, and total energy intake.
MDS was positively associated with reading comprehension in Grade 3 (standardized regression coefficient β = 0.167, P = 0.032). BSDS was positively associated with reading fluency in Grades 2–3 and reading comprehension in Grades 1–3 (β = 0.161–0.274, P < 0.05). FCHEI was positively related to reading fluency in Grades 1–2 and reading comprehension in Grades 1–3 (β = 0.190–0.344, P < 0.05). Children in the highest third of BSDS and FCHEI had better reading fluency and reading comprehension in Grades 1–3 than children in the lowest third (P < 0.05). None of the diet scores was associated with arithmetic skills.
Healthier diet assessed by BSDS or FCHEI in Grade 1 was associated with better reading skills, but not with arithmetic skills, among children in Grades 1–3. Long-term intervention studies are needed to investigate the effects of improvements in diet quality on academic achievement among children.
Clinical trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01803776.
KeywordsDiet quality Diet Children Brain Learning Academic achievement
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland, Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland, University of Eastern Finland, Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Finnish Cultural Foundation, Juho Vainio Foundation, Foundation for Pediatric Research, Paavo Nurmi Foundation, Paulo Foundation, Diabetes Research Foundation, Research Committee of the Kuopio University Hospital Catchment Area (State Research Funding) and Kuopio University Hospital (EVO Funding Number 5031343), Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation, City of Kuopio, Jenny & Antti Wihuri Foundation.
EAH, AME, AMP, VL, and TAL designed the research; AME, TV, VL, AMP, TA, and TAL conducted the research; EAH analyzed the data; EAH, AME, TV, AMP, TA, HJ, VL, and TAL wrote the manuscript; and EAH, AME, and TAL had primary responsibility for the final content of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
- 2.Sijtsma FP, Meyer KA, Steffen LM, Shikany JM, Van Horn L, Harnack L, Kromhout D, Jacobs DR Jr (2012) Longitudinal trends in diet and effects of sex, race, and education on dietary quality score change: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Am J Clin Nutr 95:580–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 13.Zhang J, Hebert J, Muldoon M (2005) Dietary fat intake is associated with psychosocial and cognitive functioning of school-aged children in the United States. J Nutr 135:1967–1973Google Scholar
- 26.Tanner J (1962) Growth at adolescence. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- 28.Picture book of food portion sizes. The National Public Health Institute, Helsinki FinlandGoogle Scholar
- 29.Rastas M, Seppänen R, Knuts L, Hakala P, Karttila V (1997) Nutrient composition of foods. The Social Insurance Institution, HelsinkiGoogle Scholar
- 30.Lindeman J (1998) ALLU-ala-asteen lukutesti (standardized reading test for comprehensive school). Center for Learning Research, University of Turku, TurkuGoogle Scholar
- 31.Räsänen P, Aunola K (2007) Test of arithmetics. Test material developed in the First Steps follow-up. University of Jyväskylä, JyväskyläGoogle Scholar
- 36.Council European (1988) EUROFIT: handbook for the EUROFIT tests of physical fitness. Council of Europe, RomeGoogle Scholar
- 37.Tompuri TT, Lakka TA, Hakulinen M, Lindi V, Laaksonen DE, Kilpeläinen TO, Jääskeläinen J, Lakka HM, Laitinen T (2015) Assessment of body composition by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, bioimpedance analysis and anthropometrics in children: the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children study. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging 35:21–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 38.Väistö J, Eloranta A-M, Viitasalo A, Tompuri T, Lintu N, Karjalainen P, Lapminen EK, Ågren J, Laaksonen DE, Lakka HM, Lindi V, Lakka TA (2014) Physical activity and sedentary behaviour in relation to cardiometabolic risk in children: cross-sectional findings from the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 11:55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 43.Sørensen LB, Dyssegaard CB, Damsgaard CT, Petersen RA, Dalskov SM, Hjorth MF, Andersen R, Tetens I, Ritz C, Astrup A, Lauritzen L, Michaelsen KF, Egelund N (2015) The effects of Nordic school meals on concentration and school performance in 8-to 11 year-old children in the OPUS School Meal Study: a cluster-randomised, controlled, cross-over trial. Br J Nutr 113:1280–1291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 52.National Institute of Health and Welfare (2016) Finnish dietary recommendations for families with children. National Nutrition Council, Juvenes Print–Suomen yliopistopaino, TampereGoogle Scholar