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What is the relationship between child nutrition and school outcomes? [Wider Benefits of Learning Research Report No. 18]

Sorhaindo, Annik; Feinstein, Leon; (2006) What is the relationship between child nutrition and school outcomes? [Wider Benefits of Learning Research Report No. 18]. Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning, Institute of Education, University of London: London. Green open access

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Abstract

In recent times, the diet of children has risen to the top of the political agenda, not only for the potential health repercussions later in life, but also for its immediate effects on the physical and mental health of children and their consequent school experience and attainment. In this report we review the literature on the relationship between aspects of nutrition and physical health, mental health, behavioural and social outcomes in children. Our research attempts to address the following questions: •How does nutrition impact upon healthy outcomes in children? •How can the health outcomes that manifest as a result of nutrition impact upon school life experiences and outcomes? We find that the early development of preferences for foods of poor nutritional value can have long-term health implications. Ultimately, the aim must be to prevent nutritional deficiencies from arising but the relationships between nutrition, health, education and social and cultural factors are complex and multi-directional. There is evidence that appropriately designed interventions can help to address early deficiencies and engage both children and parents in healthy eating. Given that the diet of children depends not only on the availability of foods but, crucially, on their preferences, any effective interventions must address the multiple determinants of children's preferences for particular foods. In particular, the role of parents is important and there may be a need to adopt a collaborative approach between schools and parents to address children's nutritional choices. There is an opportunity to capitalise on existing initiatives such as the extended schools policy, which has created the chance for schools to engage with parents and local communities, to improve diets and promote healthy eating among children. Moreover, we need to recognise that issues on the supply side and in relation to marketing and the mass media are also important, even if they are outside the immediate policy domain of the Department for Children Schools and Families. As is so often the case, an integrated approach from government is required on this policy issue. The challenges faced in changing the eating habits of children in the UK call for a collaborative approach. A concerted effort between schools, families, government departments and other agencies is necessary if children's nutritional intake, both in and out of school, is to be improved.

Type: Report
Title: What is the relationship between child nutrition and school outcomes? [Wider Benefits of Learning Research Report No. 18]
ISBN: 0954787188
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10015414
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