: Children who eat processed foods have behavioral problems and lower IQ’s?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Eating foods that are high in added sugar and fat (processed foods) in childhood may be associated with small reductions in IQ and behavioral problems.
WHAT WE KNOW
As children grow, their environment plays a big role in their development, affecting both intelligence and behavioral development. Their development is affected by many variables including family life, school setting, cognitive abilities, proper nutrition, socioeconomic status, and physical activity. We know that children, in particular, need a healthy eating pattern as the eating habits they learn now will stick into adulthood. Providing kids with a healthy diet that includes adequate fruits and vegetables …
New research suggests there is a direct positive correlation between the diet of our children and their behavior and intelligence. Currently, little is known about the effects of overall diet and intelligence or the development of behavioral disorders later in life.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
Recently, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health examined the dietary patterns of 3,966 children ages 3, 4, 7 and 8 ½. This study found that children who consumed mainly processed foods high in sugar and fat at 3 years of age had a negative correlation with IQ assessment at 8 ½ years old. Those 3-year-olds who ate a “health-conscious diet” of salad, rice, pasta, fish and fruit most often had a positive correlation with IQ assessment at 8 ½ years old. While there was a difference in IQ levels, the difference was very minimal.¹
In 2009, Preventive Medicine assessed the dietary patterns of 1,598 adolescents ages 13-15 to determine their effect on behavioral and mental health problems. The study found that improved behavioral scores were significantly associated with higher intakes of leafy green vegetables and fresh fruit. Lower behavioral scores were associated with takeaway (or fast) foods.²
Currently more evidence is needed to support the direct correlation of diet on behavior and intelligence (IQ).
You don’t need a research article to tell you that to contribute to the best future for your children, provide them with a loving environment, optimal nutrition, physical activity and motivation to accomplish their goals. Remember that a healthy lifestyle is a happy lifestyle.
For now, strive to provide them with a healthy balanced eating pattern that emphasizes fruits and veggies and daily physical activity! So while more studies need to be done to determine if it is the food itself that enhances behavior or IQ, we do know a healthy diet has many benefits to offer!
¹ Northstone, K., C. Joinson, P. Emmett, A. Ness, et al. “Are Dietary Patterns in Childhood Associated with IQ at 8 Years of Age?” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (2010): doi:10.1136/jech.2010.111955.
² Oddy, W. H., M. Robinson, G. L. Ambrosini, T. A. O’Sullivan, et al. “The Association Between Dietary Patterns and Mental Health In Early Adolescence” Preventive Medicine (2009). 49: 39-44.