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More Passing Grades with More Produce

Want to help your child improve test scores? Try serving up more fruit and vegetables — and cutting back on the fatty snacks! Such is the conclusion of a Canadian study in which those children with the highest fruit and vegetable intake were found to be 60% more likely to pass standard literacy tests, while those with the highest fat intake had a 43% higher chance of failing.

The University of Alberta study analyzed the diets of nearly 5,000 5th graders measuring their intake of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains — as well as junk food, salt and saturated fat. The dietary data was later compared to children’s performance on the Elementary Literary Assessment Test. The results: Those who flunked their dietary requirements were far less likely to pass basic literacy exams, while those who ate the most fruit and vegetables performed at a significantly higher level than those with lower intakes.

Consistent research links higher fruit and vegetable intake with lower incidence of childhood obesity. Unfortunately, more than half of kids don’t eat fruit on any given day, leaving them vulnerable to higher blood pressure, weaker bones, respiratory problems and recurrent abdominal pain. One sure bet is to convene more family meals, which tend to have 50% more fruit and vegetables than those meals consumed apart.

Bonus: There’s another way to boost your child’s health and academic performance at the same time — with exercise! A University of Illinois study found that kids who lagged in physical assessments also did poorly on achievement tests.

Published May 1, 2008

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