Quantcast

Eating Fast Food Linked to Lower Test Scores

Food

Most of us probably knew that eating fast food every day isn't good for us, even before the 2004 release of the film Super Size Me, in which filmmaker Morgan Spurlock demonstrated by personal example that doing so has major health consequences. The prevalence of fast food—often high in calories, fats, sugar and salt and low in nutrients—has been blamed for the big increases in obesity in the U.S.

Too much fast food might be bad for the brain as well as the body.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Now a study reveals that eating too much fast food might make you dumber as well as fatter. The Ohio State University assistant professor of human sciences Kelly Purtell, working with University of Texas associate professor of human ecology Elizabeth Gershoff, has released a study showing that increased frequency of fast food consumption by fifth graders led to lower test scores in reading, math and science in the eighth grade.

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

The study of 11, 740 students looked at their test scores in fifth and eighth grade and questionnaires about their food consumption that they filled out in the fifth grade. Consumption ranged from the 29 percent who had no fast food the week prior to filling out the questionnaire to the 10 percent who had it every day and another 10 percent who ate it four-six times a week.

“Fast-food consumption was quite high in these students,” said Purtell.

But their test score gains were the opposite. Children who had fast food every day or four-six times a week had notably lower gains from fifth to eighth grade than children who did not eat any fast food. Children who had fast food just one-three times per week (more than half the children participating) showed lower gains in one subject, math. The study didn't explore why this is, but other studies have shown that diets high in fat and sugar impede learning and cognitive processes.

While Purtell cautioned that the study cannot conclusively prove that eating fast food is the reason students with higher consumption showed lower academic gains, the researchers controlled for a variety of other factors, including amount of exercise the children got, what else they ate, how much TV they watched and their family's socioeconomic status.

"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," said Purtell.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Teen Fights for a Fast Food-Free World

Add Sugar, Subtract Science: How the Food Industry Influences Policymaking

10 Additives You Don't Want in Your Food

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

California Condor at soaring at the Grand Canyon. Pavliha / iStock / Getty Images

North America's largest bird passed an important milestone this spring when the 1,000th California condor chick hatched since recovery efforts began, NPR reported Sunday.

Read More Show Less
The Roloway monkey has been pushed closer to extinction. Sonja Wolters / WAPCA / IUCN

The statistics around threatened species are looking grim. A new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added more than 9,000 new additions to its Red List of threatened species, pushing the total number of species on the list to more than 105,000 for the first time, according to the Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images

The campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump has found a new way to troll liberals and sea turtles.

Read More Show Less
Night long exposure photograph of wildifires in Santa Clarita, California. FrozenShutter / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristy Dahl

Last week, UCS released Killer Heat, a report analyzing how the frequency of days with a dangerously hot heat index — the combination of temperature and humidity the National Weather Service calls the "feels like" temperature — will change in response to the global emissions choices we make in the coming decades.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A Zara store in Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Timahaowemi / CC BY-SA 3.0

Green is the new black at Zara.

The Spanish fast fashion behemoth has made a bold move to steer its industry to a more environmentally friendly future for textiles. Inditex, Zara's parent company, announced that all the polyester, cotton and linen it uses will be sustainably produced by 2025, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Whether you enjoy running recreationally, competitively, or as part of your overall wellness goals, it's a great way to improve your heart health.

Read More Show Less
Text from the plaque that will mark the site where Ok glacier once was. Rice University

By Andrea Germanos

A climate change victim in Iceland is set to be memorialized with a monument that underscores the urgent crisis.

Read More Show Less