Eating junk food hurts kids’ test scores, drinking more water helps their memory
Children who consumed sweet or salty snacks and sweetened beverages had lower standardized test scores, while kids who drank water regularly performed significantly better on a switching task, according two different presentations at Nutrition 2019.
Junk food’s negative impact
In the first study, researchers analyzed the reported intake of sweet and salty snacks, sugar-sweetened and unsweetened beverages, and fruits and vegetables, as well as Digit Span, Stroop test as well as English and math standardized test scores of 868 children (girls, 56.7%; overweight/obese, 40.5%; non-Hispanic white, 33.2%; Hispanic, 26.2%; multiracial/other, 17.1%; non-Hispanic black, 8.3%).
Researchers found that the kids with greater intake of unhealthful food groups (sweet snacks, salty snacks and sweetened beverages) had lower English standardized test scores (OR = 0.87; 95% CI, 0.8-0.94) and lower math standardized test scores (OR = 0.91; 95% CI, 0.84-0.98). Also, greater intake of sweet snacks was linked to lower English scores (OR = 0.72; 95% CI, 0.59-0.88), as was fruit (OR = 0.75; 95% CI, 0.72-0.94). Scores on the other tests were not reported.
Water’s positive impact
In the second study, 82 kids aged 9 to 11 years were asked to either maintain their regular water intake, consume 2.5 L of water or 0.5 L of water each day for 4 straight days. After the intervention, cognitive control tasks that necessitated inhibition, working memory and cognitive flexibility were assessed. On the last day, children collected their urine during a 24-hour period for urine color, urine specific gravity and osmolality assessment.
Researchers found that the kids who daily drank 2.5 L of water showed lower working memory cost vs. those who drank 0.5 L of water. No significant changes were observed in the children’s inhibition and cognitive flexibility skills. In addition, those kids who daily drank 0.5 L of water or maintained their normal water drinking habits had darker urine than those who daily drank 2.5 L of water. Similar results occurred urine specific gravity and osmolality assessments. – by Janel Miller
Bleiweiss-Sande, et al. Associations between dietary intake patterns, cognition and academic achievement in 3rd and 4th grade children from the Fueling Learning Through Exercise study.
Khan N, et al. The effect of hydration on cognition in children: The WITiKids randomized controlled crossover trial.
Both presented at: Nutrition 2019; June 8-11; Baltimore.
Disclosures: Healio Primary Care was unable to confirm authors’ relevant disclosures prior to posting.