Children Who Eat More Junk Food Do Significantly Worse in School, Study Shows

Children who eat fast food regularly had consistently lower academic test scores, a new study shows

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Even when controlling for economic and social conditions, dependence on fast food was linked to poorer academic performance.

A longitudinal study of 8,500 American schoolchildren shows a clear link between higher levels of fast food consumption and lower scores across several academic fields including mathematics, science, and reading comprehension, shows a study recently published in the journal of Clinical Pediatrics.

The study, which measured the fast-food consumption of subjects at age 10 and then followed up by looking at academic performance three years later (and controlled for more than two dozen potentially complicating factors) shows that of the sample population, a higher dependence on fast food as part of a regular diet was linked to decreased academic performance.

“Research has been focused on how children’s food consumption contributes to the child obesity epidemic. Our findings provide evidence that eating fast food is linked to another problem: poorer academic outcomes,” leading author Kelly Purtell at Ohio State University told The Telegraph.

Research suggests that poorer performance in school may be linked in two ways: a fast-food-heavy diet lacking in iron may slow down certain brain processes, or perhaps excess amounts of fat and sugar are responsible for diminished attention span and academic skills. Science test scores for the population, for instance, showed a clear example of the disparity created by a fast-food diet: those who ate fast food daily had an average test score of 79 percent, while those who never ate fast food (roughly a third of the sample) had an average score of 83 percent. 

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