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A systematic review of the effect of dietary exposure that could be achieved through normal dietary intake on learning and performance of school-aged children of relevance to UK schools

  • Louisa J. Ells (a1), Frances C. Hillier (a1), Janet Shucksmith (a1), Helen Crawley (a2), Laurence Harbige (a3), Julian Shield (a4), Andy Wiggins (a5) and Carolyn D. Summerbell (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114508957998
  • Published online: 01 November 2008
Abstract

The aim of the present review was to perform a systematic in-depth review of the best evidence from controlled trial studies that have investigated the effects of nutrition, diet and dietary change on learning, education and performance in school-aged children (4–18 years) from the UK and other developed countries. The twenty-nine studies identified for the review examined the effects of breakfast consumption, sugar intake, fish oil and vitamin supplementation and ‘good diets’. In summary, the studies included in the present review suggest there is insufficient evidence to identify any effect of nutrition, diet and dietary change on learning, education or performance of school-aged children from the developed world. However, there is emerging evidence for the effects of certain fatty acids which appear to be a function of dose and time. Further research is required in settings of relevance to the UK and must be of high quality, representative of all populations, undertaken for longer durations and use universal validated measures of educational attainment. However, challenges in terms of interpreting the results of such studies within the context of factors such as family and community context, poverty, disease and the rate of individual maturation and neurodevelopment will remain. Whilst the importance of diet in educational attainment remains under investigation, the evidence for promotion of lower-fat, -salt and -sugar diets, high in fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates, as well as promotion of physical activity remains unequivocal in terms of health outcomes for all schoolchildren.

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*Corresponding author: Professor Carolyn Summerbell, fax +44 1642 342770, email carolyn.summerbell@tees.ac.uk
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  • EISSN: 1475-2662
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