HealthDay News — Children who eat a better diet have better mental well-being, according to a study published online Sept. 27 in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.

Richard Hayhoe, Ph.D., from University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, and colleagues investigated the association between dietary choices and mental well-being among children. The analysis included 7,570 secondary school and 1,253 primary school children participating in the Norfolk Children and Young People Health and Well-Being Survey.

The researchers observed a strong association between nutritional variables and well-being scores for secondary school children. There was a significant association between higher combined fruit and vegetable consumption (five or more per day versus none) and higher well-being. Well-being scores were 3.73 units higher for those consuming five or more vegetables per day compared with none. Among children not eating any breakfast, mean well-being scores were 2.73 units lower versus children consuming a conventional breakfast, and well-being scores among those consuming only an energy drink were 3.14 units lower. Similarly, well-being scores were 2.95 units lower for children not eating any lunch compared with those eating a packed lunch. Findings for breakfast and lunch consumption were similar in an analysis of primary school children.

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“These findings suggest that public health strategies to optimize the mental well-being of children should include promotion of good nutrition,” the authors write.

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