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Fast foods may cost your child’s academic growth finds a new study

Posted:  Thursday, January 01, 2015

Fast foods are infamous as the culprit behind obesity and other lifestyle conditions. Now a new study has given us yet another reason to exchange fast foods for healthy home-cooked ones: fast foods may influence a child’s academic growth!

American researchers from Ohio State University published their study findings in the journal Clinical Pediatrics. They wanted to determine whether fast food consumption affects how well a child does in school.

They analysed data from 11,740 students who were part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort. All students were in kindergarten in the 1998-99 school year. They completed a food consumption questionnaire when they were in the fifth grade.

The researchers found that only 29% of children reported not eating fast food in the week prior to filling up the questionnaire. Nearly 10% of children reported eating fast food every day, while 10% reported eating it four to six times a week. The remaining children reported eating fast food one to three times in the week. All children completed tests in math, reading, and science in fifth grade and again when they reached eighth grade.

The study found that children who consumed fast food four to six times a week or every day scored up to 20% lower on math, reading and science tests in eighth grade than those who did not eat any fast food. Children who ate fast food one to three times a week had lower scores on the math test only in eighth grade compared with those who ate no fast food. These findings were independent of other potential contributing factors such as TV viewing time and socio-economic status among many.

The researchers suggest that lack of essential cognitive nutrients, especially iron, in fast foods could be the reason for the academic decline. Further commenting on the results, they said, “There's a lot of evidence that fast food consumption is linked to childhood obesity, but the problems don't end there. Relying too much on fast food could hurt how well children do in the classroom. We're not saying that parents should never feed their children fast food, but these results suggest fast food consumption should be limited as much as possible."

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