Another Study Shows Cognitive Benefits for Children Eating Fruits and Veggies

9/27/2017 10:26 AM

A recent peer reviewed study published in the journal Appetite found that children who ate more fruits and veggies scored much higher in multiple areas on standardized academic tests. 

In writing, students who ate their vegetables every night scored 86 points higher than those who didn’t consume their veggies.   Students who ate two pieces of fruit every day had writing scores that were an average of 17 points higher than those who ate fruit three to four times a week.   

“Eating vegetables had a significant impact on students' performance,” said co-author Tracy Burrows, an associate professor in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Newcastle. The Australian study involved 4,200 students ages 3, 5, 7 and 9.  The findings were adjusted to take into account students' socio-economic backgrounds and gender.

Conversely, the study found that consuming sugar sweetened beverages was associated with lower test scores, particularly in reading, where students scored an average of 46 points less than those who avoided unhealthy drinks.

This peer reviewed study mirrors others that show how important it is for everyone, but especially pregnant women and children, to eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fruits and veggies.  This study also serves as another example of why it is crucial that health experts’ messages promoting increased produce consumption are not undermined by organizations that seem intent on scaring consumers by questioning the safety of accessible and affordable produce. 

In fact, there are two peer reviewed studies which illustrate how this inaccurate and misleading fear based messaging carried by organizations, like the Environmental Working Group (EWG), may be negatively impacting produce consumption, especially among low income consumers.

 After these studies showed that fear may be a barrier to consumption, the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) went directly to consumers and asked what information would help them make fact-based decisions about the produce they eat and serve their families as well as reassure them about their safety.

The AFF consumer research showed that after reviewing factual information from toxicologists, nutritionists and government officials, consumer confidence in produce safety increased significantly over baseline levels with 87% of consumers stating they had a favorable opinion of organic produce and 80% stating they had a favorable opinion of conventionally grown. The results can be found on the “Facts, Not Fears” web page of safefruitsandveggies.com.

With only 1 in 10 Americans eating enough produce each day, it is clearly time for groups, like EWG, to re-examine their decades old tactics of promoting fear.  It is time for all of us to work together to promote this very simple and effective message that AFF research showed increased overall consumer confidence: “Decades of nutritional research shows that increasing consumption of conventional and organic produce can improve health and prevent diseases. Not only are conventionally and organically grown fruits and vegetables safe and nutritious, Americans should be consuming more of both to reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.”

If we want to positively influence children’s health, including cognitive function, we need to promote consumption of all fruits and veggies – organic or conventionally grown – both are safe and can be eaten with confidence. Unfair disparagement of either production practice is not in the best interest of public health. 

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