Healthy Diets Lead To High IQ, Study Finds

By Amir Khan on August 7, 2012 12:53 PM EDT

Baby
Feeding your baby a healthy diet may do more than just help keep them slim. Babies who are fed a healthy diet have a higher IQ when they get older, according to a new study, published in the journal European Journal of Epidemiology. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Feeding your baby a healthy diet may do more than just help keep them slim. Babies who are fed a healthy diet have a higher IQ when they get older, according to a new study, published in the journal European Journal of Epidemiology.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide in South Australia looked into the link between a child's eating habits at 6 months, 15 months and 2 years of age and at their IQ at age 8 and found that there is a correlation between a child's diet and their IQ.

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The study involved more than 7,000 children and looked at their diets, including home-prepared foods, ready-prepared foods, breastfeeding and junk food.

"Diet supplies the nutrients needed for the development of brain tissues in the first two years of life, and the aim of this study was to look at what impact diet would have on children's IQs," Dr. Lisa Smithers, study author and researcher at the University of Adelaide, said in a statement. "We found that children who were breastfed at six months and had a healthy diet regularly including foods such as legumes, cheese, fruit and vegetables at 15 and 24 months, had an IQ up to two points higher by age eight."

In addition, children who had poorer diets had a lower IQ, according to Smithers.

"Those children who had a diet regularly involving biscuits, chocolate, lollies, soft drinks and chips in the first two years of life had IQs up to two points lower by age eight," she said. "We also found some negative impact on IQ from ready-prepared baby foods given at six months, but some positive associations when given at 24 months."

Researchers said the findings show the need to feed your baby a healthy diet, especially during such a formative time.

"While the differences in IQ are not huge, this study provides some of the strongest evidence to date that dietary patterns from six to 24 months have a small but significant effect on IQ at eight years of age," Dr. Smithers said. "It is important that we consider the longer-term impact of the foods we feed our children." 

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