Junk food diet could affect child's IQ

Caroline Cassidy

With Britain's battle with obesity regularly making the news, most would surely admit that to an awareness of the health issues caused by a junk food diet.

Junk food diet could affect IQ
Junk food diet could affect IQ

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But a new study has revealed that being fed a poor diet as a child could affect more than just your weight - scientists now believe a junk food diet could lower a child's IQ.

Researchers at Bristol University, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, asked parents to complete questionnaires about the diet of their children at the ages of three, four, seven and eight. Each child's IQ was then measured.

They found that, while diet had little or no impact on IQ scores at the age of four or seven, a poor diet as a toddler reduced the child's score by five points or more.

And the effects of all those crisps, chips and biscuits could not be undone when the child was switched to a healthier diet.

Dr Pauline Emmett, who conducted the study along with Dr Kate Northstone, told the Daily Mail: "The brain grows at its fastest rate during the first three years and good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal brain growth.

"By the age of three, brain development is slowing down which is perhaps why the diet doesn't have much effect afterwards."

The study of 4,000 children scored their diets via a points system - for children aged three, every point increase given for a processed diet resulted in a 1.67 decrease in IQ points.

Meanwhile for every point increase in a healthy or "traditional" meat and veg diet, the IQ rose by 1.2 points.

Michael Nelson, director of research at The School Food Trust, said: "Given that around 23 per cent of children start school overweight or obese, it's 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."

What do you think? Are parents lacking sound advice about child nutrition? Leave a comment in the box below...