Children who follow a healthy diet and consume a limited amount of red meat are more likely to be better at solving problems compared to those with poor food habits, a new study reveals.

An experiment from the University of Eastern Finland has also found that children who frequently read are likely to have better reasoning skills – skills that are essential in learning, academic performance, and everyday problem-solving.

Additionally, they have discovered that children in reception and year 1 can improve their reasoning skills by taking part in organised sporting activities.

First author Sehrish Naveed said: “Children with healthier eating habits showed greater cognitive development than other children.

“Specifically, better overall diet quality, lower red meat consumption, and higher low-fat dairy product intake were linked to better reasoning skills.”

Children who spend a large amount of time on digital devices are at risk of having poor reasoning skills, the study has reported.

In addition, children who regularly take part in unsupervised leisure-time physical activity are less likely to have good reasoning skills, according to the findings.

Joint author Dr Eero Haapala said: “In the lives of growing children, diet and physical activity intervention is just one factor influencing lifestyle and reasoning skills.

“Based on our study, investing in a healthy diet and encouraging children to read are beneficial for the development of reasoning skills among children. Additionally, engaging in organised sports appears to support reasoning skills.”

During the trial, the team of researchers analysed data from the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) study.

The study was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.

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