Health-related behaviors may play a role in the ability to learn. Critical stages of brain maturation occur early in life.
Studies in the United Kingdom have shown that diet during infancy was associated with intelligence in mid-childhood and adolescence; in New Zealand, a positive association between cognitive skills and diet was found at 3.5 and seven years of age; in Australia, children with healthy diets during early childhood had higher verbal and non-verbal abilities in mid-childhood.
According to information available to the World Health Organization (WHO), “because diet affects specific outcomes that are important for children’s educational attainment, some authors tested the association of diet with school grades or standardized test scores.
“A positive association between good diet and academic performance was found in adolescents from Canada, Chile, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.”
The St. Maarten Health Study of 2015, “How Healthy is St. Maarten?” indicated that on a daily basis 31 per cent of the participants don’t consume breakfast; 63 per cent don’t consume vegetables and 66 per cent don’t consume fruits. Based on these results it is likely that this lifestyle is also practice by their descendants.
Collective Prevention Services (CPS), executing agency of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, recommends to parents and guardians to prepare healthy snacks for their children throughout the new school year 2018-2019. Healthy choices equal healthy children and healthy smiles!
Improving the nutritional status of school-age children is an effective investment for improving educational outcomes of school children and ensuring a healthy population.
Establishing healthy dietary and physical activity patterns among young people promotes health and nutritional well-being preventing obesity and various non-communicable diseases.
In making healthy foods and beverages available at home and for school, and in providing, supporting and encouraging opportunities for physical activity, parents can influence their children’s behavior.
Simultaneously parents are advised to live and promote a healthy lifestyle because children’s behavior is often shaped by observation and adaptation.
Here are some tips for children and adolescents: provide healthy breakfast before each school day; don’t leave home without breakfast; serve healthy school snacks to children (whole-grain, vegetables, fruits); promote and encourage the intake of fruits and vegetables. Introduce the children to local fruits e.g. sour sap, guava, passion fruit, mango, etc.
Restrict intake of energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods (e.g. packaged snacks); restrict intake of sugars-sweetened soft drinks; ensure an opportunity for family meals; provide information and skills to make healthy food choices.
Promote regular intake of water and physical exercise and get your child involved in sport activities.