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Are Your Kids Eating Habits Lowering Their IQ?

February 16, 2011

Based on the results of a recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, what your child eats early in life may affect their IQ later in life. The study used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in which children’s diets were reported by parents in food-frequency questionnaires (FFQs) at 3, 4, 7, and 8.5 years of age.

Results showed that a diet pattern high in “processed” foods (high fat and high sugar) at age 3 was negatively linked with IQ assessed at 8.5 years of age. Conversely, a “health conscious” (salad, rice, pasta, fish, fruit) diet was positively linked with IQ.

Studies have shown that brain growth is at its fastest rate during the first 3 years of life and that this growth is also related to cognitive outcomes. The researchers of this study suggest that one possible explanation to the link between diet and IQ may be attributed the fact that that good nutrition may aid in the optimization of brain growth during this stage of life.

Interestingly, the authors of the study report the study shows “weak” associations between dietary patterns in early childhood and general intelligence pointing to limitations such as possible bias in the study based off FFQs. The authors do however point to the strengths of the study such as the large sample size and repeat measures of diet implying the data does still show diet in early childhood may be associated with IQ.

Overall, the study concludes that because research in this area is sparse and inconsistent, more research is needed to determine the exact correlation between diet and intellect.


Have you read the study? Where do you stand on the correlation between diet and intelligence? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section.


Northstone, Kate, Carol Joinson, Pauline Emmett, Andy Ness, and Tomas Paus. “Are dietary patterns in childhood associated with IQ at 8years of age? A population-based cohort study .” Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 10 (2011): n. pag. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Web. 7 Feb. 2011.

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