Enhancing Problem-Solving Skills in Children: The Impact of Diet and Reading Habits

by Ella

A recent study has shed light on the significant role that a healthy diet and reading habits play in improving children’s problem-solving abilities. The research, conducted by the University of Eastern Finland, highlights the connection between dietary choices, reading frequency, and cognitive development in young minds.

The findings reveal that children who adopt a nutritious diet and limit their consumption of red meat demonstrate a heightened proficiency in problem-solving when compared to their peers with less favorable eating habits. Moreover, the study underscores the positive correlation between regular reading and enhanced reasoning skills, which are pivotal for academic success, learning, and everyday decision-making.


Notably, the study also explored the impact of organized sports activities on reasoning skills among children in their early education years (reception and year 1). The results indicate that participation in structured sports can contribute to the advancement of reasoning abilities.


Sehrish Naveed, the lead author of the study, commented, “Children with healthier eating habits showed greater cognitive development than other children. Better overall diet quality, reduced red meat consumption, and increased intake of low-fat dairy products were associated with improved reasoning skills.”


The research also addresses potential factors that can hinder the development of reasoning skills in children. Excessive screen time on digital devices was identified as a risk factor, potentially impairing cognitive growth. Similarly, unsupervised leisure-time physical activity was linked to decreased reasoning skills among the study’s participants.


Joint author Dr. Eero Haapala emphasized the multifaceted nature of children’s development, stating, “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 organized sports appears to support reasoning skills.”

The research drew on data from the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) study, presenting a comprehensive analysis of the intricate relationship between diet, physical activity, reading habits, and cognitive abilities among children. The study’s insights provide valuable guidance for parents, educators, and policymakers seeking to foster optimal cognitive development in young individuals.

The results of this study have been published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, adding to the growing body of knowledge about the factors that contribute to children’s intellectual growth and problem-solving capabilities.



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