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Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet is Associated with Greater Academic Performance in Primary Schoolchildren

A study published last year in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior performed a cross-sectional study to determine any potential associations between adherence to the Mediterranean

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

diet, body weight, energy, and academic performance in Greek school-aged children.

528 primary schoolchildren between the ages of 10 and 12 years old (split relatively evenly between boys and girls) from 21 different schools in and around Athens, Greece were recruited for this study.

Activity levels, anxiety levels, self-esteem/self-perception levels, body image dissatisfaction, and dietary habits for each child were measured using self-reported questionnaires.

Academic performance was evaluated by the children’s teachers, who then completed questionnaires to be analyzed by the researchers.

Finally, height, weight, BMI, waist circumference, and abdominal obesity were measured for each child.

Important Findings:

  • Adherence to the Mediterranean diet, physical activity levels, hours of sleep, and self-esteem levels were all significantly and positively associated with academic performance in the schoolchildren in this study.
    • The greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet, the better the academic performance of the students.
    • The greater the physical activity level, the better the academic performance of the students.
    • The more sleep the child got, the better the academic performance.
    • The greater the child’s self-esteem, the better the academic performance.
  • Obesity and hours watching television were significantly and negatively associated with academic performance in the schoolchildren in this study.
    • The more overweight and obese the child, then poorer the academic performance.
    • The more TV the child watched, the poorer the academic performance.

Photo By U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Ward [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo By U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Ward [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This study found that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet, greater physical activity levels, more sleep, and greater self-esteem were all associated with better academic performance in Greek schoolchildren.

The results of this study provide a greater understanding of these relationships in students, and might be able to help with developing policies for improving academic performance in schoolchildren in general.

Source:

Vassiloudis, I., Yiannakouris, N., Panagiotakos, D.B., Apostolopoulos, K., and Costarelli, V. 2014. Academic Performance in Relation to Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet and Energy Balance Behaviors in Greek Primary Schoolchildren. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 46(3): 164-170.