Children fed a healthy diet have a higher intellectual ability in comparison to those who were fed a diet high in fats and sugars, a new study has found.
Researchers at the University of Bristol followed the long-term health and wellbeing of approximately 14,000 children born in 1991 and 1992 as part of the West Country’s Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).
Scientists questioned parents about the types and frequency of the food and drink their children consumed at ages three, four, seven and eight-and-a-half years old. A sliding scale, ranging from minus two for the healthiest to 10 for the least healthy, was used to grade the children’s diet.
The children’s IQs were then tested using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children when they turned eight-and-a-half.
Results showed that those eating a predominantly junk food diet at the age of three had a lower IQ at the age of eight-and-a-half – even if their diet improved between those ages.
The research suggests that for every 1-point increase in the diet scoring scale, IQ fell by 1.67, with dietary patterns between the ages of four and seven having no impact.
With your child’s brain growing at its fastest within the first three years of life, “it is possible that good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal brain growth,” Dr Kate Northstone said to The Telegraph.
If you have trouble getting your toddler to eat his greens, have a look at our healthy eating for toddlers article for some ideas on how to encourage a healthy diet.