Unhealthy eating habits lead to poor NAPLAN scores – new study 

A new Australian study has confirmed what we already suspected: that eating nutrient poor foods results in poor academic outcomes, particularly in the areas of reading, numeracy and language (spelling, grammar and punctuation). 

The 2018 study included 26 schools with a total of 528 children aged 9 to 11 years old undergoing the national NAPLAN standardised testing.

The researchers found that children consuming more foods such as cakes, donuts, pizzas, hamburgers, soft drinks and energy drinks had a lower academic performance than those consuming more of the healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.  Areas affected were language, numeracy and reading, but not writing.

Children eating healthy foods on less often and unhealthy foods more often during an average week had significantly lower NAPLAN scores than children with any other food combination pattern.

While the NAPLAN testing method is controversial, this study highlights the importance of providing an abundance of healthy ‘everyday’ foods to our children and only allowing the more processed or sugary ‘sometimes’ foods as special treats. If your child is a fussy eater or you are confused about what foods are best to support their education, happiness and health, please contact me to make an appointment. Your child’s future depends on their nutrition!

1. Pearce K, Golley R, Lewis L, Cassidy L, Olds T, Maher C. The Apples of Academic Performance: Associations Between Dietary Patterns and Academic Performance in Australian Children. J Sch Health. 2018;88(6):444-452. doi:10.1111/josh.12631.

About the author

Belinda Kirkpatrick is an expert Nutritionist and Naturopath in Sydney. She specialises in natural fertility, family and women's health care. She is the author of Healthy Hormones (a practical guide to balancing your hormones) and is the founder of the SEED Concept and also Seed App for iPhone.

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