Does Junkfood Make Children Stupid?

11 February 2011

Junk Food
Ah! Another study has come out telling us, this time, that junk food may possibly make our children dumb.

According to the study, if you didn't already know, of 4000 children born in the early 90's and tested at 8 years of age (I have to wonder why the results took up to 12 years to compile!) there is a link between the early consumption of processed foods, sodas, sugary snacks and fast foods and lower IQ at that age.

Problems with the test include that they did not test the IQ of the parents of these children, and the mothers of the children filled out forms to indicate what kinds of foods the children ate. Unfortunately, most of this type of testing is known to be unreliable as people may not want to reveal answers they think might negatively reflect on them.

Once again I'm annoyed by this kind of study. What does it tell us that we don't already know? That a diet full of vitamins and nutrients is better than one full of junk food? Well who would have guessed? That's not to say the occasional junk food is going to lower IQ, but one full of it may!

Michael Hanlon from the Mail Online writes “... it is hard to think of a scientific claim more guaranteed to arouse supersized dollops of guilt, anger and resentment among mums and dads trying desperately to do the right thing by their offspring, only to be confronted by a child who refuses to eat anything except chips.”

I think this is the problem, really. Why won't children eat? Has it always been this way? Proponents of Baby Led Weaning don't think so. Stories of toddlers who've never had a puree in their lives, who have broad pallets and eat balanced, healthy meals without the fuss, without fighting over eating and without the 'parental stress' around feeding time that Hanlon (and a million others) talk about.

Another issue raised in the Mail Online article and the study was the education level of the parents, with education used as a measure of their IQ, but in this day and age where 73% of UK households have Internet access, and every pregnant mother has access to free prenatal care, midwives, health visitors and other medical professionals, with SureStart Centres and new parent groups and vouchers for milk and so on, I find lack of education to be a poor excuse for “not knowing”.

It's great that we have a study to confirm that good food helps the growing brain of a toddler … well... grow. But we pretty much already knew that.

As for us, I watched my sixteen month old devour a plate of sashimi tonight, rich in Omega 3, healthy, a light supper and since she's not capable of preparing her own supper, I intend on keeping them that way.

TOPICS:   News and Recalls

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