Childrearing

Feel The Guilt McDonald’s Moms, Fast Food For Kids Leads To Lower IQ

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McDonald'sAs if there wasn’t already enough shame associated with hitting the drive-through for a McDonald’s Happy Meal. As if there wasn’t enough embarrassment when you concede that your child wants french fries instead of apple dippers. Obviously, we know that just a few trips out for fast food doesn’t make an adult or a child completely unhealthy. But that might be cold comfort when you hear the newest bad news about Taco Bell, Burger King and all your other guilty pleasures.

An academic study at Goldsmiths, University of London looked at 4000 Scottish children, their eating habits, and their IQ scores.

You know what’s coming, don’t you?

Children who ate fast food as opposed to fresh, home-cooked meals had lower IQs. Researchers believe that the nutritiously empty meals hindered brain development in young children, meaning that they’ll struggle and have to work harder their entire lives because they weren’t getting proper nutrition early in life.

The idea that fatty foods in general hurt brain development has actually been tested and proven in the US and Australia as well, meaning that this is just another nail in the Happy Meal’s coffin. The evidence is getting to be pretty conclusive. If we want to do what’s best for our children, we’ll keep them away from the chicken nuggets and french fries.

The study in London took their connections a bit further than previous research. While it probably seems like an exercise in logic, they included socioeconomic factors into the study. Unsurprisingly, those from more modest means were more likely to serve fast food to their children. Those higher up on the socioeconomic scale were more likely to have fresh meals at home. However, researchers still believe that it was the food, and not other outlying factors, that contributed to the brain development issues that left fast food kids with lower cognitive development.

All in all, I still don’t think that moms should be made to feel guilty for a single trip to see Ronald McDonald. I still think that healthy diets come from balance, not nitpicking. But we shouldn’t write off this study completely. I think this type of information should be seen as a wake-up call that plenty of parents still need to be educated on healthy nutrition and how it effects development. Instead of letting this research shame anyone, we should be using it to support growth and understanding on all levels.

(Photo: Tomasz Bidermann / Shutterstock.com)