It is smart for children to eat well, and eating well can make children smarter. This Bystander’s eye was caught by this story of a type we always find pleasing: research turning into policy with a beneficial outcome.
This particular piece of research was conducted in Shaanxi by a team of researchers from Stanford University in the U.S. which showed that 40% of school children in the rural parts of the province were suffering from anemia, and that their school performance improved once their diet was fortified with iron to address that. With an estimated one in three children living in rural areas across the country being anemic, Beijing now plans to spend 16 billion yuan ($2.5 billion) a year over the next nine years on a pilot project to improve school meals for 26 million elementary and middle school students in the countryside. The Stanford researchers conducted their initial study in 2008, with a broader four-province back-up study following. The results prompted the directive from Beijing last month to improve school meal nutrition. “The social return is huge,” says Scott Rozelle, the research team’s leader. “These kids will be able to do better in school, work harder and sustain China’s growth.”