It’s a no-brainer that giving kids whole foods versus processed foods makes them healthier. But does letting toddlers snack on apples instead of chips make them smarter? Maybe so.
A new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health finds that children who don’t get good nutrition during their first three years have lower IQs than their better-fed peers.
In the study, British researchers looked at just under 4,000 8-year-olds and their diets growing up, as well as their current IQ. The kids whose diets had been lower in fats, sugars and processed foods by the age of 3 averaged 1 to 2 points higher on IQ tests, even when compared with those who switched to a healthier diet after age 3.
Researchers admit the difference in IQ is modest but suggest the findings support the idea that the brain grows fastest during the first three years and good nutrition may cause optimal brain growth.
"This study shows that early diet, beyond breastfeeding, may be important — and more important than later diet — in optimizing cognitive development," researcher Kate Northstone told MyHealthNewsDaily.com.
Of course, moderation is key -- even when it comes to reacting to the latest health research news.
"It's not as if eating a packet of crisps [that would be potato chips to us Yanks] is going to destroy your brain for life," Marcus Richards, a psychologist at Britain's Medical Research Council, told NBC's Nightly News.
While all of this doesn’t guarantee your kid is going to score higher on the SAT, it’s yet another reason to create healthy eating habits from the get-go.
Would you feed your kids healthier foods if you knew it would impact their IQ?