Is Fast Food Linked To Poor Academic Achievement In Children?

Does eating fast food lead to poorer academic output in children? A research team led by Katy Purtell, an assistant professor of human sciences at Ohio State University, conducted a study that examined a possible link between academic achievement and fast-food. The fast-food study was published in the medical journal Clinical Pediatrics.

The team examined the fast-food consumption habits of 11,740 students who participated in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort. The students, who all started kindergarten in 1998, completed a food consumption survey when they were in fifth grade. Of the participants, just over a fourth of them reported eating no fast food in the week preceding the survey. One tenth of the students said that they ate fast food every day, and another tenth of them said that they ate fast food between four and six times during the week prior. Most of the children – the remaining participants – reported that they ate fast food between one and three times during the previous week.

The participants had their academic skills tested in fifth grade, and then again in eighth grade. They were tested in reading, science, and math.

Children who ate fast food between four and six times per week scored up to 20 percent lower on all tests in eighth grade than the children who did not consume any fast food. The students who only ate fast food between one and three times per week scored lower than those who abstained from fast food on their math tests only.

One could say that perhaps other factors caused the fast-food eating children to perform lower in academic tests, but the researchers found that the implications were the same even after they removed variables that could go hand-in-hand with eating fast food, including television watching, socioeconomic factors, other foods that were eaten, and exercise.

Purtell believes there is a link between fast-food consumption and poorer academic achievement, and that changes should be made to try to cut back on children’s fast-food consumption, according to Medical News Today.

“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. We’re not saying that parents should never feed their children fast food, but these results suggest fast-food consumption should be limited as much as possible.”

Earlier this year, the Inquisitr reported that McDonald’s launched a new, more modern Ronald McDonald in an attempt to try to appeal to more children, as parents move away from fast-food joints like McDonald’s in an attempt to find healthier alternatives.

Dr. Elizabeth T. Gershoff from the University of Texas at Austin also authored the study, which drew the conclusion that “high levels of fast food consumption are predictive of slower growth in academic skills in a nationally representative sample of children.”

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