Kids Who Eat Healthy Are Happier

S u m m a r y :
Kids who eat healthy are happier, suggests a new study that links salubrious diets with better self-esteem, and fewer emotional issues and peer troubles. The findings are published in the journal BMC Public Health.

Healthy Food, Happy Kids

If you want to bring up happy kids, give them healthy food! The benefits of good eating habits are established, and a new paper shows that they don’t keep only doctors away but low self-esteem and bullies as well. Furthermore, with a better psychological health, the kids will turn to healthy foods more.

Boosting children’s mental health is, thus, simple: make them stick to the right dietary plans. Or so says the new research conducted by a team of researchers from The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Fewer Bullies, More Friends

The study, focusing on children in the age group 2 to 9, shows that healthy eating is associated with better mental health, and fewer emotional and peer issues, regardless of the child’s body weight; the positive effects were seen two years after the scores were calculated.

“We found that in young children aged two to nine years there is an association between adherence to healthy dietary guidelines and better psychological well-being, which includes fewer emotional problems, better relationships with other children and higher self-esteem, two years later. Our findings suggest that a healthy diet can improve well-being in children,” says corresponding author Louise Arvidsson.

Arvidsson and her colleagues reached to this conclusion after analysing data from 7,675 children from European countries:

  1. Belgium
  2. Cyprus
  3. Estonia
  4. Germany
  5. Hungary
  6. Italy
  7. Spain
  8. Sweden

Their findings show a link between a higher Healthy Dietary Adherence Score (HDAS) and a better self-esteem as well as fewer emotional and peer problems. It is to be noted that HDAS reflects the compliance to health dietary guidelines along the lines of restricting consumption of refined sugars and fat, together with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. So, those with higher scores are, in fact, eating healthier.

“It was somewhat surprising to find that the association between baseline diet and better well-being two years later was independent of children’s socioeconomic position and their body weight,” says the researcher.

Better Well-Being Linked With Greater Adherence to Healthy Eating

Also, it appears that one good thing leads to another: better well-being has, in turn, also been linked with the intake of fruits, vegetables, sugar, and fat in accordance with dietary guidelines, and better self-esteem, linked with the recommended sugar intake; also, good parent relationships have been associated with the right intake of fruits and vegetables, and fewer emotional problems linked with a better fat intake. Fewer peer problems have also been linked with fruit and vegetable intake as per the guidelines.

Now, these findings need to be confirmed with further studies.

“The associations we identified here need to be confirmed in experimental studies including children with clinical diagnosis of depression, anxiety or other behavioral disorders rather than well-being as reported by parents,” says Dr Arvidsson.


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