A New Study Suggests That Fast Food Hinders Kids’ Learning

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A new study indicates that eating fast food on a regular basis does more than increase the number on the scale. It may be stunting children's academic growth.

If your child is not performing well in school, you may want to cut back on fast-food burgers and such.

A new study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics found a link between children’s low test scores and the amount of fast food they eat.

“Researchers found that the more frequently children reported eating fast food in fifth grade, the lower their growth in reading, math and science test scores by the time they reached eighth grade,” said a press release.

Students who consumed the most fast food had test score gains that were up to 20 percent lower than students who didn’t eat any fast food, the study found. Kelly Purtell, lead author of the study and a professor at Ohio State University, said in a statement.

There’s a lot of evidence that fast-food consumption is linked to childhood obesity, but the problems don’t end there. Relying too much on fast food could hurt how well children do in the classroom.

Although the study doesn’t prove that eating fast food on a routine basis is the actual cause of lower test scores for kids, the study results suggest a strong connection.

“The results of the study did not change, even when the researchers took into account school quality and socioeconomic status, as well as how often each child watched television and how regularly they exercised,” PBS said.

Nearly 12,000 students were included in the study. They were tested in math, science and reading/literacy in fifth and eighth grades. The study also analyzed how much fast food the children were eating at age 10.

More than half the students reported eating fast food one to three times a week. Nearly 75 percent of them ate fast food at least once each week.

The implications of the study seem clear:

“Our results show clear and consistent associations between children’s fast-food consumption in fifth grade and academic growth between fifth and eighth grade,” the researchers wrote. “These results provide initial evidence that fast-food consumption is associated with deleterious academic outcomes among children.”

The study doesn’t say why eating fast food could be hindering students’ learning. The press release says:

But other studies have shown that fast food lacks certain nutrients, especially iron, that help cognitive development. In addition, diets high in fat and sugar – similar to fast-food meals – have been shown to hurt immediate memory and learning processes.

So, the message seems to be, if you want to provide your kids with brain food, skip the fast food. Most likely, your children’s waistline and test scores will thank you.

What do you think of the results of the study? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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