Skipping Fast Food Boosts Brain Gains

It’s called “fast” food, but it could slow kids’ brain development. What is actually in that Big-Mac?

The authors of a new study suggested that a lack of healthy nutrients in a fast-food-heavy diet could be behind this effect.

“There’s a lot of evidence that fast-food consumption is linked to childhood obesity, but the problems don’t end there,” said Kelly M. Purtell, PhD, an assistant professor of human sciences at Ohio State University in Columbus.

“Relying too much on fast food could hurt how well children do in the classroom.”

Children who ate fast food daily had significantly lower test scores in science, reading and math than students who ate no fast food. Students who ate fast food four to six times a week also had significantly lower test scores than those who didn’t eat it.

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Children who ate fast food one to three times per week were not hindered in the reading or science assessments, Dr. Purtell and team found.

However, they did show a significant decrease in math scores.

Fast-food consumption data was collected from 8,544 students in fifth grade, and academic ability was measured in fifth grade and again in eighth grade. The results were drawn from data collected from a nationally representative group of students by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).

“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,” Dr. Purtell said.

This study was published online Dec. 22, 2014  in Clinical Pediatrics.

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