Monday, 28 January 2008

Banana Louts

According to the Daily Mail, sugar-laden fizzy drinks and additive-filled cakes and biscuits have long been blamed for bad behaviour. But now there is a new enemy in the school canteen - the banana.
Children who eat lunches rich in fruit and vegetables much more likely to misbehave than those who fill up on junk food, government-funded research shows.
The so-called "banana louts" were almost four times as likely to be boisterous when studying with their classmates during the afternoon, the study by the School Food Trust found.
The finding challenges the widely-held assumption that chemical-laden fast foods cause misbehaviour, while healthy foods feed the mind.

The researchers studied the behaviour of youngsters at six primary schools in Sheffield, observing them over 12 weeks in the lesson after lunch. They found that youngsters who had lunched on healthy meals were more than five times as likely to be well-behaved when being taught as those who had eaten fast food. However, the situation was very different when the children were studying by themselves in small groups. In such cases, the fruit and veg-fed children were 3.6 times as likely to be "off task" or naughty.

It is thought that fast-food fuels hyperactivity, affecting concentration and making pupils difficult for teachers to control. Healthier meals, in contrast boost alertness - raising the risk of youngsters becoming boisterous when the calming influence of the teacher is removed. Or as the School Food Trust, which is chaired by restaurateur Prue Leith, put it: "Generally increased alertness in pupils who have eaten a healthier lunch may help to explain the increased off-task behaviours when pupils were being asked to work together."

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