Healthy diets and children's IQs

Children may have a higher IQ if they are fed a healthy diet in their early years. This is the suggestion of new research published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, which revealed youngsters who consume junk food may see their intelligence stunted as a consequence.

Investigators from the University of Adelaide discovered infants who were breastfed at six months and ate healthy food such as fruit, vegetables and legumes over the next 18 months enjoyed an IQ of up to two points higher by the time they reached eight years old.

This was compared against other little ones whose diets regularly included chocolate, biscuits and soft drinks.

Dr Lisa Smithers, a Public Health Researcher at the learning institute, said it is important parents give consideration to how certain foods might affect their children further down the line.

She added the 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".

Chartered Psychologist Professor Philip Adey from King's College London believes it is important that these findings are interpreted correctly. He says: "This effect has been reported for some years now. It seems that it is a matter of minimum levels of essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for children's intelligence to develop normally. Above these minima there is no extra effect of more healthy food.

"In other words it is more a matter of a poor diet preventing normal intellectual development, than of special benefits of a super-diet."