'Brain food' not as popular as expected ahead of exam

'Brain food' not as popular as expected ahead of exam

Although many parents in China believe good nutrition will help their children perform better in the national college entrance exam, which takes place over the weekend, some traditional online nutrition stores have had fewer sales than expected over the past weeks.

Wangbuliao, a Chinese nutrition company renowned for its brain nutrition products since the early 1990s, saw its sales peak right after Lunar New Year. Its most popular product at that time was a series of capsules to improve memory.

"But sales have actually declined a lot in the past month compared with March," said Yu, a sales manager at Wangbuliao's retail center in Dezhou, Shandong province. Yu declined to give his full name.

"Most parents, whose children are about to take the exam, stop buying the product because they don't think it will still be useful only one month ahead of the examination," he said.

Yu said a large number of parents were buying the product in February and March, most of them residents of Shandong province, Tianjin and Beijing.

"Many parents are interested in how long it will take to improve students' brain function and help them improve their memory," Yu said. "According to our experiments, it usually takes one month, but that also varies with different people."

Zhou Meng, mother of a 18-year-old girl in Hefei, Anhui province, bought nutrition products for her daughter in April, but the girl refused to eat them.

She bought a 770-gram pot of egg white powder from Amway for her daughter two months ago.

"The product is known for enhancing teenagers' immune systems," she said. "But my daughter said she felt dizzy in class after drinking the powder with milk at breakfast. So we shifted back to a normal breakfast."

Huang Lei, a nutrition expert from the Beijing Dietetic Association, believes the best way for students to achieve their best performance during the exam is to keep to their normal diet and schedule, and get enough rest.

"Any nutrition product, as long as they are secured with a national batch code as a nutrition product, will do no harm to students' health," Huang said.

"Yet taking nutrition products only days before the exam may put an extra burden on students, both physically and mentally. What's most important is to eat three meals a day on time, eat enough grains as they provide energy, and get adequate rest."

Huang also said renting a hotel room near the test venue for an afternoon nap may not be a good idea, as some students will not rest well in an unfamiliar place.

"Students may also feel pressured by the money their parents spend on hotel rooms," she said.

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