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Forcing children to eat fruit, vegetables every night will see them do better at school next day

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Children who eat vegetables with their evening meal every night record significantly better scores in writing and spelling tests. PHOTO: HuffingtonPost

It is another reason for parents to persevere when their children refuse to eat their greens. Finishing their vegetables at dinner the night before appears to make them do better at school the next day.

Children who eat vegetables with their evening meal every night record significantly better scores in writing and spelling tests, an Australian study found.

Children who eat vegetables with their evening meal every night record significantly better scores in writing and spelling tests, an Australian study found.

That is thought to be because vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which maintain Deoxy ribonucleic Acid (DNA), making them good for the brain. Where studies normally examine the effect of eating breakfast on children’s academic performance, this is one of the first to look at their evening meal.

The study found vegetable intake boosted children’s achievement even when their parents’ education level was taken into account. The study of more than 4,200 children found they scored 86 points higher on literacy and numeracy tests if they had vegetables for every evening meal of the week. The boost in test scores, compared to children who had no vegetables with any evening meal, was highest for spelling and writing.

The study, published in the journal Appetite, states that vegetables contain antioxidants, which are similar to polyphenols and maintain cellular DNA. The research team found fizzy drinks, in comparison, could make children perform more badly at school.

Children reported by their parents to have least four glasses of sugar-sweetened drinks a day had test scores 46 points lower than those drinking less than a glass.

Refined carbohydrates, found in these drinks, have been found to reduce the volume of the brain, including its memory centre, the hippocampus. Children who ate two pieces of fruit a day had higher writing scores in literacy tests, the study also found. Of the 95 studies that included continuous obesity measures, only 13 per cent of associations were supported by strong evidence, meaning the studies had statistically significant results and no suggestion of bias.

Strong associations were found in studies that examined BMI with risk of oesophageal, bone marrow, and colon (in men), rectal (in men), biliary tract system, pancreatic, endometrial (in premenopausal women), and kidney cancers.

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