By JR on Friday, September 26, 2014
The war on fast food: More medical idiocy
The war on fast food is unrelenting so logic must not be allowed to get in the way. The claim below that hamburgers etc make you stupid is itself stupid. All that they have rediscovered are the familiar observations that poor people are more likely to eat fast food and poor people are dumber. It's a class finding only. No effects of the food have been shown.
The authors were aware of the class issue in that they controlled for maternal education but education is not strongly correlated with income, particularly among women. Remember those burger flippers with Ph.D.s and the plumbers who live in the best suburbs? The journal article is "Prospective associations between dietary patterns and cognitive performance during adolescence" by Anett Nyaradi et al. in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2014
It's no secret that eating hamburgers and fries could affect your waist line but new research has found it can also take a toll on your brain.
Researchers found that higher intake of a western diet by 14-year-olds had scored lower in cognitive tasks by the age of 17.
Within the western dietary patterns, the study found participants with a high intake of take-away food, deep fried potatoes, red and processed meat and soft drinks had negative associations that affected their reaction time, mental ability, visual attention, learning and memory.
While participants who had higher consumption of fruits and leafy green vegetables, had a positive cognitive performance.
Researcher Dr Anett Nyaradi told Science Network that it could be due to increased micronutrient content from leafy green vegetables, which has linked to enhanced cognitive development.
Dr Nyaradi said several factors may be at play in this diet-related decline in cognitive skills, including the level of omega-6 fatty acids in fried foods and red meat.
Metabolic pathways function best with a balanced 1:1 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but the western diet can shift this to a 1:20 or 1:25 ratio, according to Science Network.
Dr Nyardi told Science Network that high intake of saturated fat and simple carbohydrates has been linked to impairment in the functioning of the hippocampus, which is a brain structure centrally involved in learning and memory that increases its volume during adolescence.
'Adolescence represents a critical time period for brain development. It is possible that poor diet is a significant risk factor during this period…indeed, our findings support this proposition,' she said.
Dr Nyardi said that high intake of saturated fat and simple carbohydrates affected learning and memory during adolescents
The University of Western Australia and the Telethon Kids Institute observed 602 participants from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study.
Each participant were required to fill out a food frequency questionnaire at the age of 14 to identify the factor analysis of 'healthy' and 'Western' dietary patterns.
When they turned 17, a cognitive performance was assessed using a computerised cognitive battery of tests that included six tasks.