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Toddler's diet affects childhood IQ

Toddler's diet affects childhood IQ

Fatty, sugary and processed foods are lowering the IQ of toddlers, according to a new study.

The diet of a three-year-old can affect their brain performance in later childhood, the study of thousands of children across Britain shows.

A diet which consists of mostly processed foods at the age of three is linked to a reduced IQ at the age of eight and a half.

In contrast the Bristol-based study found that the mental performance of youngsters was boosted during growth by eating foods packaged with vitamins and nutrients.

The research, in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that diets at a young age could impact an older child's IQ, even if changes to eating habits improve as they grow up.

"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 authors wrote.

The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) is tracking the long-term health and well-being of around 14,000 children.

Parents completed questionnaires detailing the types and frequency of the food and drink their children consumed when they were three, four, seven and eight-and-a-half years old.

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

The brain grows at its fastest rate during the first three years of life.

"It is possible that good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal brain growth," the report added.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

<http://jech.bmj.com/> (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health)
Fatty, sugary and processed foods are lowering the IQ of toddlers, according to a new study.

The diet of a three-year-old can affect their brain performance in later childhood, the study of thousands of children across Britain shows.

A diet which consists of mostly processed foods at the age of three is linked to a reduced IQ at the age of eight and a half.

In contrast the Bristol-based study found that the mental performance of youngsters was boosted during growth by eating foods packaged with vitamins and nutrients.

The research, in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that diets at a young age could impact an older child's IQ, even if changes to eating habits improve as they grow up.

"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 authors wrote.

The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) is tracking the long-term health and well-being of around 14,000 children.

Parents completed questionnaires detailing the types and frequency of the food and drink their children consumed when they were three, four, seven and eight-and-a-half years old.

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

The brain grows at its fastest rate during the first three years of life.

"It is possible that good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal brain growth," the report added.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

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