Healthy eating increases reading skills in youth

Increase your child’s reading skills by feeding them healthy meals.

When you hear of healthy eating, you think about the benefits of all the vitamins and minerals that are recommended to increase body functions and quality of life. You think of healthy weight, skin elasticity, increased energy and overall positive life outlook. According to a new study, healthy eating has also been linked to increased reading skills in youth.

An article published in the Journal of Nutrition talks about a study in Finland that showed a healthy diet being linked to better reading skills in the first three years of school. The study involved 161 youth and followed them from first to third grade. The quality of their diet was analyzed using a diary system along with a standardized test. The study followed a Finnish and Baltic Sea Diet that recommended more fruits, fish, vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats, and focused on decreasing red meat, sweets and saturated fats. This study proved to have better readers and independent readers in those grades due to the diets mentioned. The reading scores of the children with the poorer diets did not improve.

As you look at this diet, there isn’t much difference in the food that is recommended for youth in the U.S. If you promote healthy meals for all youth and limit the questionable foods, youths’ reading levels should increase as well. Regardless, feeding your child something healthy daily will lead to lifelong health benefits, and in the long run, increase their reading the first three years of their life.

Michigan State University Extension supports healthy programs that help encourage youth and families to make healthy, lifelong decisions that may affect their health, nutrition choices, fitness goals and overall well-being. Visit your county MSU Extension office to learn more about the healthy living movement.

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