The John Tung Foundation yesterday cited an Australian study that showed a “weak but novel” correlation between the dietary patterns of young children and the development of intelligence, and called on parents to pay attention to their childrens’ diet.
According to the foundation, a study conducted by public health researcher Lisa Smithers of the University of Adelaide showed that “children who were breastfed at six months and had a healthy diet regularly, including foods such as legumes, cheese, fruit and vegetables at 15 and 24 months, had an IQ up to two points higher by age eight.”
The study added that “those children who had a diet regularly involving biscuits, chocolate, lollies, soft drinks and chips in the first two years of life had IQs up to two points lower by age eight.”
The research was backed up by statistics from the Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan, a survey carried out by the Department of Health between 1980 and 1981.
This survey found that nutritious foods tended to elevate study efficiency by between three and five times, while the study efficiency of those consuming a diet containing high amounts of sugar, oil and salty foods, while avoiding milk and vegetables, was reduced by 1.8 times.
According to the foundation, this is because foods with high sugar, oil and salt content tend to have lower nutritional value while containing excessive calories.
The foundation said that such foods are harder to digest, leading to students being unable to concentrate during classes.
It called on parents to pay close attention to diet and not allow their children to consume too many processed foodstuffs.
The foundation also recommended that parents should not keep unhealthy snacks at home and called on schools to bar vending machines from selling unhealthy food, adding that teachers should also not reward students with unhealthy snacks.