Can Free Fruit Program Boost Students Academic Performance?

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Can Free Fruit Program Boost Students Academic Performance?

Can Free Fruit Program Boost Students Academic Performance? A new study published in Scientific Reports has found that Norway's free school fruit prog

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Can Free Fruit Program Boost Students Academic Performance? A new study published in Scientific Reports has found that Norway’s free school fruit program did not have a positive impact on academic performance. The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Oslo, examined the effects of the program on students in grades 5, 8, and 10.

Background

In an effort to enhance learning outcomes by improving students’ diets, Norway implemented a nationwide policy mandating the provision of one free piece of fruit per day to all students between 2007 and 2014. This complementary fruit program resulted in an estimated 30% increase in mean fruit consumption among insured children, while simultaneously reducing unhealthy snack intake among youngsters from low-income households. Research has established a positive correlation between fruit consumption and academic success, suggesting potential benefits for cognitive function, attention span, and behavior.

Study Methodology

To investigate the effects of Norway’s free school fruit program on academic performance, researchers conducted a national quasi-experiment utilizing administrative data on student test scores obtained before, during, and after the policy’s implementation. To account for potential sociodemographic factors influencing academic performance, the researchers focused on a subsample of boys with low sociodemographic status. Students receiving free fruit were designated as the intervention group, while ineligible students (such as those attending exclusively elementary schools) served as controls.

The researchers say that the findings of their study suggest that governments and educational institutions should be cautious when expecting academic gains from nutritional initiatives. They say that such initiatives may be context-sensitive and may not be effective in situations where students already have a healthy diet.

Additional Findings

  • The study found that the negative effects of the free fruit program were most pronounced among boys from low-income families.
  • The study also found that the negative effects of the program were more pronounced in later grades.
  • The researchers say that the negative effects of the program may be due to the fact that the fruit was provided during school hours, which may have taken away from instructional time.

Conclusion

The study’s findings challenge the notion that providing free fruit to students automatically translates into improved academic outcomes. The observed negative association may stem from factors such as the program’s implementation, its limited impact on students’ overall dietary patterns, or Norway’s already high baseline nutritional status among students. The study suggests that educational interventions aimed at enhancing academic performance through nutritional measures may be context-sensitive and require careful consideration of potential unintended consequences.

Study source


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