Pop quiz, what makes a kid get lower scores in reading, math and science? Time’s up. A consistent diet of fast food does, at least according to a new study out of Ohio State University. More than 8,000 children took part. Mom ever tell you to eat your spinach? She was right. Eating too much fast food is associated with a lack of iron, which scientists surmise may in turn cause the brain to become underdeveloped. Certain processes are slower, researchers said. This has a significant impact on children’s ability to learn as a consequence. Another hypothesis is that the added sugar and fat may affect their academic performance. Most of this type of research thus far has surrounded the childhood obesity problem. In the study the children’s consumption of fast food was tallied at age 10 and then three years later. Investigators recorded the student’s academic progress at these two intervals as well. Over two dozen factors were considered when arriving at the study’s results, say investigators.
The kids were asked how often they ate fast food including McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut. 52% of respondents said they had consumed such food from one to three times over the previous week. 10% had fast food four to six times over that same time frame. A second 10% had consumed fast food every day. Those who never ate such food had an average grade in science of 83. Those who ate fast food daily had an average score of 79, four points and an entire grade below their peers, merely on what they ate. This brings up a lot of questions and issues. Does part of the results have to do with food desserts, where fast food is the only food around and therefore inequality? Another question has to do with what if any responsibility these corporations have and whether or not greater regulations need to be passed to safeguard the next generation of Americans. The debate will surely continue, but these results are something to chew on. The results of this study were published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics. Class dismissed.