Cookies and chips lower IQ

Hold onto your hats for this latest bit of groundbreaking news… Children who consume a healthy diet during childhood may have higher IQs than those who are fed junk food.

Seriously? We need a study to tell us this? Well, judging from the sad state of affairs in this country, I guess we do. Of course, this study wasn’t even done in the U.S. (God forbid we question this nation’s love affair with Little Debbie and Chester, the Cheetos cheetah.)

Anyway, this study–published in the European Journal of Epidemiology–examined the association between dietary patterns at 6, 15 and 24 months and IQ scores at age 8 in more than 7,000 children.  This is pretty impressive. Particularly because it’s the first time we have seen a link between what infants eat and their intelligence later in life.

But it makes sense. The brain develops during infancy and childhood. Which is why it’s so critical to feed your kids well. And don’t forget that the brain is mostly fat. So it’s absolutely essential to make healthy fats an integral part of children’s diets. Grass fed meats, avocado, and and Mac Nut Oil or olive oil are the first things I recommend to the parents of the children I see. And if the mom is breastfeeding, these are the foods I recommend she eat, along with a good fish oil that is high in DHA.

It really does make a difference. And this study proves it. Researchers found that the children who were breastfed at six months and then fed a healthy diet at 15 and 24 months, had IQs up to two points higher by age eight. And, for once, the definition of a “healthy diet” was actually accurate, indicating one that regularly included foods such as legumes, cheese, fruit, and vegetables.

On the other hand, kids who were regularly fed cookies, candy, soda, and chips during the first two years of life had IQs up to two points lower by age eight.

And in another interesting twist on the subject, the researchers stressed that it was the kids who ate homemade foods at 15 and 24 months who had the higher IQs. In fact, they noted a negative impact on IQ from ready-prepared baby foods given at six months. I wonder if this has to do with the gluten present in so many baby foods, the plastics found in the lining of the jars, or just in the processing?

Regardless, it’s absolutely important to consider the longer-term impact of the foods we feed our children.

Two IQ points may not seem like a lot, but when you consider the other benefits kids get from a lifetime of healthy eating habits…Well, it seems like an invaluable investment if you ask me.

Consider that the next time you want to give your kid a “treat.”

“Dietary patterns at 6, 15 and 24 months of age are associated with IQ at 8 years of age.” Eur J Epidemiol 2012; 27(7): 525-535