Friday, 10 Apr, 2009 Science

Eating Porridge Helps Children Get Better Results on Exams


According to a new research, children who eat high energy breakfast meals, for example porridge, show better results at their exams at school. The study showed that children who ate such food as porridge before turning three had better results in reading and problem-solving tests than those who did not follow such a diet.

Current research provides a strong connection between nutrition and academic performance. Scientists mentioned that such diet has a specific effect on girls.

According to John Maluccio, lead author of the latest study and assistant professor of economics at Middlebury College, Vermont, the research proved that the first 3 years of life are very important and can have long-term benefits on the development of a child, especially in education.

The research was based on another study that analyzed children living in Guatemala who ate "atole", porridge made with corn and mixed with dry skimmed milk and sugar. According to the research published in the Economic Journal, these children received supplements in the period between 1969 and 1977.

Scientists came to Guatemala in 2002 and 2004 to collect data on academic performance of children. They found that those who ate atole as children registered higher scores on reading comprehension tests as well as on non-verbal cognitive tests. Female participants were more likely to stay in education for one more year.

The Institute for Nutrition in Central America and Panama, Emory University, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the University of Pennsylvania and Middlebury College were the ones to carry out the research in Guatemala.

"This study in Guatemala is important because it shows that improving nutrition in early childhood can have significant educational payoffs into adulthood," said John Hoddinott, a co-author and IFPRI senior research fellow.

"We already know that good nutrition is important for long-term health and especially important for brain development in the first few years of life," said Jacqui Lowdon, a pediatric dietician from the British Dietetic Association.

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