Another study confirms that fish consumption in children is linked to important health benefits.
Past studies have indicated a beneficial association between fish consumption and cognition. Other studies have shown that fish consumption helps sleep. This newly published study from the University of Pennsylvania as reported in the journal Scientific Reports, seems to link these benefits. It shows that children who eat fish weekly have better sleep patterns, and score better on IQ tests well.
Nutritionally, the intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of fish, has been found to be associated with improvement in both intelligence test scores as well as being associated with better sleep. The authors of this study believe that better sleep may be a mediator- the potential missing link between eating fish and intelligence score improvements.
Researcher A. Raine explains, “Lack of sleep is associated with antisocial behavior; poor cognition is associated with antisocial behavior. We have found that omega-3 supplements reduce antisocial behavior, so it’s not too surprising that fish is behind this.”
Over f5,000 9 to 11-year-olds in China were the study subjects. They were surveyed for their frequency of fish consumption and their parents surveyed for their sleep habits. The children were then administered the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children- the IQ test. Their data revealed that children who eat fish weekly scored 4.8 points higher on the IQ exams than those who said they “seldom” or “never” consumed fish. Their fish consumption was also associated with fewer sleep disturbances.
Pinto-Martin,executive director of Penn’s Center for Public Health Initiatives, comments on the implications of this research- “It adds to the growing body of evidence showing that fish consumption has really positive health benefits and should be something more heavily advertised and promoted. Children should be introduced to it early on.” Consumption of fish once per week moves a family into the “high” fish-eating group as defined in this study. “Doing that could be a lot easier than nudging children about going to bed,” Dr Raine says. “If the fish improves sleep, great. If it also improves cognitive performance – even better. It’s a double hit.”