According to new research from the University of East Anglia Health and Social Care Partners children who eat a better diet, high in fruit and vegetables, have better mental wellbeing. This study is the first to investigate the association between fruit and vegetable intakes, breakfast and lunch choices, and mental wellbeing in UK school children.
It shows how eating more fruit and veg is linked with better wellbeing 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 wellbeing.
The research team say 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 optimise mental wellbeing and empower children to fulfil their full potential.
Lead researcher Prof Ailsa Welch, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “We know that poor mental wellbeing 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 wellbeing. So, we set out to investigate the association between dietary choices and mental wellbeing among schoolchildren.”
This research supports the work of The Food Teacher™ team and the Young Chef Awards. Engaging schools in quality nutrition education couldn’t be more relevant and we know from our research the impact of the awards around increased engagement with fruit and vegetables and therefore the potential impact on their mental health.
If you’re a parent/carer and your child’s school do not complete the Young Chef Awards please tell them about it. Email them the link (https://youngchefoftheyear.com/) or this flyer (https://www.thefoodteacher.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/All-awards-Flyer-Endorsed-compressed.pdf) and/or our impact report.
Engaging children with nutrition couldn’t be more relevant or important with regard to their wellbeing so please do get in touch.
‘Cross-sectional associations of schoolchildren’s fruit and vegetable consumption, and meal choices, with their mental wellbeing: a cross-sectional study’ is published in the journal All awards Flyer Endorsed – compressed .