How Good Nutrition Helps Kids’ Social Development
“It’s important to eat healthy.” We’ve all said it to kids before, and we all know it’s true. Turns out it’s true in more ways than most of us realize.
It’s long been known that good nutrition is important to the physical health and growth of children. But a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania looked at an area few have studied and found that good nutrition has a positive impact on a child’s social development too.
If you needed another good reason to instill good nutrition in your kids, we’re happy to bring it to you.
Poor Nutrition = Poor Social Development
Researchers studied more than 1,550 three-year-olds in Mauritius, an African island nation.
They also watched the kids interact with one another to track four areas of social development:
- Extent of the child’s verbal expression
- Extent of play with others
- Exploratory behavior
They also tracked areas of physical development linked to malnutrition. They were:
- Hemoglobin levels (linked to iron deficiency)
- Angular stomatitis (linked to Vitamin B2 and niacin intake)
- Healthy hair growth (linked to protein intake)
The results were clear. The children who scored poorly in the nutrition/physical categories also did poorly in the social development categories. The relationship was proportionate: The worse a child scored on nutrition, the worse he or she scored on social development.
It’s About More Than Making Friends
A child’s level of social development means far more than whether the child will have a tough time relating to kids in class. According to the doctors who wrote the study:
- Social development can actually affect physical health
- Children who are socially well-developed are statistically more likely to have higher IQs later in youth
The path to a successful adolescence begins young. It’s important that we put our children’s development first, and good nutrition is a big part of that.