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Posted on Sat, 24 Jan 15

Fast food stunts academic growth in kids

What happens when kids brains are starved of vital nutrients due to regular consumption of nutrient-depleted fast foods? Their brain suffers and academic performance goes down, according to a new study.

Nutrients from food are important for brain development and functions such as mood, cognition, learning and memory but increasing fast food consumption means many kids are not getting the nutrients they need. 

To see what impact fast food is having, the level of dietary intake of foods from fast food restaurant such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and similar places was measured in approximately 11,740 North American children and contrasted against their academic achievement in math, science and reading.

Kids who ate more fast food during fifth grade had predictably lower levels of academic achievement in all 3 subjects in eighth grade, even when fifth grade academic scores and numerous potential confounding variables were accounted for. Adding strength to these results the effects were “dose dependent” i.e. worse in children who reported higher intakes (daily) of fast food compared to those who at fast food less frequently.

‘These results provide initial evidence that fast food consumption is associated with deleterious academic outcomes among children,” concluded the study investigators.


Purtell KM, Gershoff ET. Fast Food Consumption and Academic Growth in Late Childhood. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2014 Dec 5. pii: 0009922814561742. [Epub ahead of print]

Tags: Junk Food, Fast Food, Brain Health, Mental Health, Cognition

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