Food for Thought: Studies Reveal Diet’s Role in Children’s Brain Health

New findings on how nutrition, hydration and supplements affect brain function and academic performance


Newswise — Baltimore (June 8, 2019) – Eating well, drinking enough water and taking certain supplements have all been shown to positively affect brain function in adults. Less is known about how these factors affect children. At Nutrition 2019, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, researchers announce new findings on the ways nutrition influences how children think, learn and behave. 

Nutrition 2019 is being held June 8-11, 2019 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Contact the media team for more information or to obtain a free press pass to attend the meeting. 

Eating habits linked to academic performance 

Junk food associated with poorer academic achievement

An analysis of more than 850 elementary school children found those who reported higher consumption of snack foods and sugar-sweetened beverages scored lower on standardized academic tests, on average, than children who consumed less of these foods. While unhealthful diets were not linked to lower cognitive test scores, the findings suggest policies to improve children’s diets could help kids do better in school, researchers say. Rachel Bleiweiss-Sande, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, will present this research on Sunday, June 9, from 1:45 – 2:45 p.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center, Halls A-B (poster #226) (abstract). 

Hydration associated with better brain functioning

Epidemiological data suggests many children in the United States do not drink enough water. In a new study, researchers found children with greater habitual hydration performed better during tasks requiring cognitive flexibility. In addition, children showed improvements in their hydration levels and working memory after consuming a higher amount of water—2.5 liters daily—than when instructed to drink just half a liter per day, suggesting increasing water intake can help improve both hydration and cognitive function. Naiman A. Khan, University of Illinois, will present this research on Tuesday, June 11, from noon – 12:15 p.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center, Ballroom III (abstract). 

Supplements boost brain function 

Micronutrient powder aids babies’ development in rural India  

Undernutrition, prevalent among young children worldwide, can harm children’s development. In a randomized controlled trial conducted in 26 Indian villages, infants who received a multiple micronutrient powder, an early learning intervention, or both showed significant improvements in expressive language, visual reception and social-emotional behavior compared with those receiving a placebo. The findings suggest these interventions can help babies’ brain development in communities facing nutritional deficiency and a lack of early learning opportunities. Kristen M. Hurley, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will present this research on Sunday, June 9, at 12:15 p.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center, Poster Theater 2 (abstract). 

Caffeine and L-theanine may help children with ADHD

Caffeine and L-theanine, substances found in tea leaves, are known to improve sustained attention in healthy adults. In a new study examining the effects of these substances in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), researchers found five boys with ADHD showed better sustained attention, improved cognitive performance and decreased impulsivity when taking caffeine and L-theanine supplements together compared to a placebo. However, impulsivity increased when either substance was administered alone. Chanaka N. Kahathuduwa, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, will present this research on Tuesday, June 11, from 8:45 – 9:00 a.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center, Room 317 (abstract). 

This release may include updated numbers or data that differ from those in the abstract submitted to Nutrition 2019. 

Please note that abstracts presented at Nutrition 2019 were evaluated and selected by a committee of experts but have not generally undergone the same peer review process required for publication in a scientific journal. As such, the findings presented should be considered preliminary until a peer-reviewed publication is available.

 

About Nutrition 2019

Nutrition 2019 is the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition held June 8-11, 2019 at the Baltimore Convention Center. It is the national venue for more than 3,600 top researchers, practitioners and other professionals to announce exciting research findings and explore their implications for practice and policy. Scientific symposia address the latest advances in cellular and physiological nutrition and metabolism, clinical and translational nutrition, global and public health, population science, and food science and systems. www.nutrition.org/N19 #Nutrition2019 

About the American Society for Nutrition (ASN)

ASN is the preeminent professional organization for nutrition research scientists and clinicians around the world. Founded in 1928, the society brings together the top nutrition researchers, medical practitioners, policy makers and industry leaders to advance our knowledge and application of nutrition. ASN publishes four peer-reviewed journals and provides education and professional development opportunities to advance nutrition research, practice and education. www.nutrition.org

 

Find more news briefs and tipsheets at: https://www.eurekalert.org/meetings/nutrition/2019/newsroom/.

 

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