Higher servings of fruits and vegetables linked to improved mental well-being in children

According to a new UK-based study, higher fruit and vegetable intake was associated with better mental wellbeing scores in secondary school students.

“The relationship between diet and nutrition with mental health and well-being in children or adults is not fully understood, although the relevance of diet quality to physical health in relation to morbidity and mortality from non-communicable diseases is well established,” the authors said. with Norwich Medical School wrote in the study published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

To conduct the study, researchers analyzed the Norfolk Child and Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Survey published in 2017 across more than 50 schools in Norfolk, UK. including data among 7,570 secondary school children and 1,253 primary school children.

The study authors found a strong association between nutrition and mental well-being in older high school students, but analyzes did not find such a link in elementary school students, possibly due to reduced understanding of portion sizes in self-reported data.

Results for secondary school students indicated a linear trend between fruit and vegetable consumption and mental well-being score; five or more servings were associated with greater mental well-being compared to 3-4 or 1-2 servings. Larger portion size (5 or more) was associated with an increased well-being score of 3.73 compared to children reporting zero portions.

Additionally, children who ate no breakfast and those who only consumed an energy drink had lower scores of 2.73 and 3.14 units, respectively. Packed lunches were also associated with improved mental well-being compared to no lunch at all.

Researchers have suggested a potential biological basis behind the link between nutrition and higher mental well-being; nutrition is essential for development, growth and hormone metabolism, with “direct effects on a number of biological processes including oxidative processes, inflammation and immunity, and brain signaling molecules”, have writes the authors in part, adding that unhealthy diets cause inflammation, often higher in patients with depression, and insufficient intake of “magnesium, folate, and zinc” has been linked to depression and n-fatty acids. 3 long chain with anxiety.

“Public health strategies and school policies should be developed to ensure that good quality food is available to all children before and during school to optimize mental well-being and empower children realize their full potential,” the study authors concluded.