Junk Food Diet Linked to Lower IQ – Study

Toddlers who have a diet high in processed foods may have a slightly lower IQ in later life, according to a British study described as the biggest research of its kind.

Toddlers who have a diet high in processed foods may have a slightly lower IQ in later life, according to a British study described as the biggest research of its kind.

AFP – Toddlers who have a diet high in processed foods may have a slightly lower IQ in later life, according to a British study described as the biggest research of its kind.

The conclusion, published on Monday, comes from a long-term investigation into 14,000 people born in western England in 1991 and 1992 whose health and well-being were monitored at the ages of three, four, seven and eight and a half.

Parents of the children were asked to fill out questionnaires that, among other things, detailed the kind of food and drink their children consumed.

Three dietary patterns emerged: one was high in processed fats and sugar; then there was a “traditional” diet high in meat and vegetables; and finally a “health-conscious” diet with lots of salad, fruit and vegetables, pasta and rice.

When the children were eight and a half, their IQ was measured using a standard tool called the Wechsler Intelligence Scale.

Of the 4,000 children for which there were complete data, there was a significant difference in IQ among those who had had the “processed” as opposed to the “health-conscious” diets in early childhood.

The 20 percent of children who ate the most processed food had an average IQ of 101 points, compared with 106 for the 20 percent of children who ate the most “health-conscious” food.

“It’s a very small difference, it’s not a vast difference,” said one of the authors, Pauline Emmett of the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol.

“But it does make them less able to cope with education, less able to cope with some of the things in life.”

The association between IQ and nutrition is a strongly debated issue because it can be skewed by many factors, including economic and social background.

A middle-class family, for instance, may arguably be more keen (or more financially able) to put a healthier meal on the table, or be pushier about stimulating their child, compared to a poorer household.

Emmett said the team took special care to filter out such confounders.

“We have controlled for maternal education, for maternal social class, age, whether they live in council housing, life events, anything going wrong, the home environment, with books and use of television and things like that,” she said.

The size of the study, too, was unprecedented.

“It’s a huge sample, it’s much much bigger than anything anyone else has done,” she said in an interview with AFP.

Emmett said further work was needed to see whether this apparent impact on IQ persisted as the children got older.

Asked why junk food had such an effect, she suggested a diet that was preponderantly processed could lack vital vitamins and elements for cerebral development at a key stage in early childhood.

“A junk food diet is not conducive to good brain development,” she said.

The paper appears in the peer-reviewed Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, published by the British Medical Association (BMA).

Heart Patients Only Should Use Aspirin

LONDON – Low dose aspirin is widely given to people who have had heart problems

The use of aspirin to ward off heart attacks and strokes in those who do not have obvious cardiovascular disease should be abandoned, researchers say.

The Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) study says aspirin can cause serious internal bleeding and does not prevent cardiovascular disease deaths.

It says doctors should review all patients currently taking the drug for prevention of heart disease.

The Royal College of GPs says it supports the DTB’s recommendations.

Low-dose aspirin is widely used to prevent further episodes of cardiovascular disease in people who have already had problems such as a heart attack or stroke.

Given the evidence, the DTB’s statement on aspirin prescription is a sensible one

This approach – known as secondary prevention – is well-established and has confirmed benefits.

But many thousands of people in the UK are believed to be taking aspirin as a protective measure before they have any heart symptoms.

Between 2005 and 2008, the DTB said four sets of guidelines were published recommending aspirin for the “primary prevention” of cardiovascular disease – in patients who had shown no sign of the disease.

These included people aged 50 and older with type 2 diabetes and those with high blood pressure.

But the DTB said a recent analysis of six controlled trials involving a total of 95,000 patients published in the journal the Lancet does not back up the routine use of aspirin in these patients because of the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeds and the negligible impact it has on curbing death rates.

Dr Ike Ikeanacho, editor of the DTB, said: “Current evidence for primary prevention suggests the benefits and harms of aspirin in this setting may be more finely balanced than previously thought, even in individuals estimated to be at high risk of experiencing cardiovascular events, including those with diabetes or elevated blood pressure.”

Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said the DTB was an excellent source of independent advice for medical professionals.

He said: “Given the evidence, the DTB’s statement on aspirin prescription is a sensible one.

“The Royal College of General Practitioners would support their call for existing guidelines on aspirin prescription to be amended, and for a review of patients currently taking aspirin for prevention.”

June Davison, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation said: “It is well established that aspirin can help prevent heart attacks and strokes among people with heart and circulatory disease – so this group of people should continue to take aspirin as prescribed by their doctor.

However, for those who do not have heart and circulatory disease the risk of serious bleeding outweighs the potential preventative benefits of taking aspirin.

“We advise people not to take aspirin daily, unless they check with their doctor.

“The best way to reduce your risk of developing this disease is to avoid smoking, eat a diet low in saturated fat and rich in fruit and vegetables and take regular physical activity.”