Pupils' concentration can be improved by almost 20% if they eat healthy lunches in modern dining rooms, research has revealed.
Improving food and dining facilities has a positive impact on behaviour, and means pupils can work better on their own, a School Food Trust (SFT) study discovered.
In seven English secondary schools, researchers introduced healthy meals and redecorated dining rooms, while four schools with no changes made were used as control studios.
They then observed pupils after lunch to see if learning and behaviour changes. Pupils were watched at the start of the study then again 15 weeks later.
Schools where the improvements had been made were 18% more likely to have pupils "on task" - concentrating and engaged with learning - than those in the control schools.
The study said: "These findings have important implications for classroom teaching in secondary schools.
"If pupils are likely to be more on-task and less off-task for up to one third of the time, teaching is likely to run more smoothly with fewer disruptions.
"The net effect of these improvements in behaviour is likely to mean that more time is spent on achieving the objectives of the lesson and less time on activities or discipline needed to retain the pupils focus."
"Good to see this evidence and its more complex than having healthyfood alone, I think. Pupils who feel valued (eg, by eating healthy foodin a pleasant environment) may be more motivated to achieve in theclassroom. Interventions aimed at meeting wider health needs of pupils(eg, school nurse drop-in clinics) have been shown to have verypositive influence on the school ethos and pupils' achievement andattainment. Let's have more of the carrot!" - Catherine Gleeson, Yorks