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Poor Diet linked to Low IQ in Children

Poor Diet linked to Low IQ in Children

February 11th, 2011  |  Published in Health, Nutrition, Science & Research

A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, an affiliate publication of the British Medical Journal, suggests that a diet high in fats, sugars, and processed foods in early childhood may lower IQ, while a diet full of vitamins and nutrients may do the opposite.

The study tracked the long term health and well-being of around 14,000 children born in 1991 and 1992. Parents completed questionnaires, detailing the types and frequency of the food and drink their children consumed when they were 3, 4, 7 and 8.5 years old. IQ was measured when they were 8.5 years old.

The results showed that a predominantly processed food diet at the age of 3 was associated with a lower IQ at the age of 8.5, but that a healthy diet — high in salad, fruit, vegetables, rice and pasta — was associated with a higher IQ at the age of 8.5. Dietary patterns between the ages of 4 and 7 had no impact on IQ.

“This suggests that any cognitive/behavioural effects related to eating habits in early childhood may well persist into later childhood, despite any subsequent changes to dietary intake,” the authors say.

While it could be argued that other factors such as the socio-economic class and eduction level of parents may be somewhat responsible for the differences in their children’s IQ, the study’s authors say that they accounted for other potential influential factors.

The researchers speculate that their findings could be explained by other research that shows head growth at this age is linked to intellectual ability. A study from earlier this year revealed a poor diet in early pregnancy is linked to poor brain growth in babies and potentially a lower IQ later in life.

“It is possible that good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal brain growth,” they say.

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