Fans of Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution will not be at all surprised to hear about the results of recent research: kids benefit from good nutrition. But, in this case, in ways that may not be totally expected.
Michèle Belot, from Oxford University’s Nuffield College, and Jonathan James of the University of Essex, compared the educational scores and attendance in Greenwich to five nearby communities from 2002 through 2007, leaving out the school year when Jamie introduced new menus to the Greenwich schools.
The researchers chose communities similar to Greenwich in socioeconomic status for the comparison control group. What they found was that Jamie’s healthier school meals correlated with significantly improved test results and decreased absences as a result of illness. In fact, “authorized absences” decreased by 15 percent after the documentary, Jamie’s School Dinners, aired on Channel 4 in the UK.
Jamie reports that in the midst of implementing the new menus, improved health and behavior was already observable in the students. He was quoted as saying, “Even while doing the program, we could see the benefits to children’s health and teachers. We could see that asthmatic kids weren’t having to use the school inhalers so often, for example. We could see that it made them calmer and therefore able to learn.” Those who are mindful of their diet and activity levels often can report similar improvements.
As Jamie is trying to make a difference in Huntington, West Virginia, and change dietary and cooking habits all across America, this research is extremely important. Not only does this research support his cause, it is based on one of his own programs. Eating less processed foods leads to healthier children who are better able to learn. Developmentally, it is essential to self-esteem for children to be able to do their best in school.
Proper nutrition can benefit children physically, mentally, and emotionally. Isn’t that worth more effort and even more cost?
(via: The Guardian)
April 15th, 2010