Eating fish will allow children to grow smarter and sleep better, according to a study published in the Scientific Reports journal.
The discovery follows earlier research into the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids found in many kinds of fish. Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to help heart attack survivors extend their lives, reduce the risk of childhood asthma, and reverse the disease-linked altering of brain genes caused by fructose.
The Benefits Of Eating Fish For Kids
According to the new study from the University of Pennsylvania, greater fish consumption leads to improved cognition and sleep among children.
The researchers arrived at such a conclusion by collecting information through self-administered questionnaires. They monitored the fish consumption of subjects that were a total of 541 boys and girls in China with ages of 9 years old to 11 years old. The researchers then asked the parents about the subjects' sleeping patterns, including duration, interruptions at night, and sleepiness during the day. Once the subjects reached age 12, their brain development was measured through IQ tests.
After taking into account various factors into their study, the researchers found that children who eat fish at least once a week have IQ scores that are 4.8 points higher on average compared to children who seldom or never eat fish. Meanwhile, children who only sometimes eat fish, at about two or three times per month, scored 3.3 points higher on average.
In addition, the researchers found that higher fish consumption was connected to fewer sleep disturbances that resulted in better sleep quality.
The Importance Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The researchers looked at the effects of omega-3 fatty acids not as supplements but rather as components of food. This makes the discovery more valuable, as parents can easily integrate fish consumption and increase omega-3 fatty acids intake into daily meals compared to having to rely on supplements.
The findings of the study are pretty clear, but according to the study's lead author and University of Pennsylvania school of nursing professor Jianghong Liu, the research into the matter is still not well-developed. Liu, however, recommended parents to put fish on the dinner table to help their kids perform better academically and sleep better at night.
"Lack of sleep is associated with antisocial behavior; poor cognition is associated with antisocial behavior," noted Adrian Raine, a Penn Integrates Knowledge professor who is part of the study. He then added that omega-3 fatty acids have been known to reduce antisocial behavior, so the results of increased fish consumption are not really surprising.