Your child’s diet and her/his IQ

February 10, 2011 by  
Filed under OBESITY

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What your child eats can have an effect on his or her IQ. And the earlier you start them on the healthy diet, the better. Results from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children show that what a 3-year old toddler is eating now would be partially determinant of his or her cognitive performance 5 years hence.

The early years are the years when the brain is developing very rapidly and the fastest growth rate occurs during the first 3 years of a person’s life. In these formative years, the brain needs all the right nutrients it can get.

Foods packed with vitamins and minerals are good for the brain. Foods rich in sugar and fat as well as processed food on the other hand are IQ destroyers.

Okay, so toddlers are notorious for being fussy with their food. But the eating habits of many kids improve as they grow older. How does this improvement affect IQ? Well, according to the study, this helps a bit but the healthy-eating toddler still keeps the head start.

According to the authors

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

The Avon Study is following up “the long-term health and well-being of around 14,000 children.” This part of the study was conducted by asking the parents to fill up a questionnaire on diet and by asking the kids to take an IQ test. The authors found a strong correlation between dietary scores and IQ levels.

“Every one-point increase in the study’s dietary pattern score – a record of processed fat intake – was associated with a 1.67-point fall in IQ.”

With the increasing trend of childhood obesity, the results of this study underscore an urgent need for drastic measures to improve diet in early childhood. It is not only the body that suffers but the mind as well.

According to Michael Nelson, the School Food Trust’s director of research:

“Given that around 23% of children start school either overweight or obese, it’s absolutely clear that healthy choices as part of their early development will stand children in good stead – not only for keeping a healthy weight as they grow up, but as this evidence suggests, improving their ability to do well at school. These findings also demonstrate the importance of helping everyone involved with children’s early development to get the information and advice they need on good nutrition.”

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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