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fast food linked to lower academic performance

Do you find that friends and family just don’t “get it?”

You’ve made positive changes in the food your children are eating, but you may be running into interference from others.

fast food/lower academic performanceIt isn’t surprising so many people believe that Happy Meals and their cousins are perfectly okay for their kids since so many families live this way.  But if you try to explain that real nourishment isn’t likely to come from a drive-thru window, do you find that they don’t understand?

Here’s some information that might help.

A study published in Clinical Pediatrics found that children who eat more fast food in fifth grade tend to show lower improvements in test scores in reading, math and science years later. Kelly Purtell, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University stated, “There’s a lot of evidence that fast-food consumption is linked to childhood obesity, but the problems don’t end there. Relying too much on fast food could hurt how well children do in the classroom.”

The study included more than 11,700 students and used questionnaires to determine how much fast food they ate.  They were tested in reading/literacy, mathematics and science in both fifth and eighth grades. The researchers found that kids who ate the most fast food in fifth grade had significantly slower academic growth than their classmates by eighth grade. Children who reported eating fast food at least four to six times a week had 20 percent lower gains in test scores in all three subjects than kids who did not eat fast food on a regular basis. Children who reported eating fast food 1 to 3 times a week performed about as well as their peers in reading and science but had slower academic growth in math.

A happy compromise

The good news is that fast food is not necessarily junk food, and it is not off limits for Feingold families!  No doubt the children in the Clinical Pediatrics study were eating the usual burgers, fries and a Coke, but there are many other choices, and it’s possible to have what one chain calls “Real Food, Real Fast!”

The Feingold Association publishes a Fast Food Guide to help you find the best choices in major restaurant chains.  You can order a burrito at Chipotle instead of Taco Bell.  The fries at Five Guys and In ‘N Out Burger are delicious and free of petroleum preservatives.  And it’s as easy to find a Panera as it is to find a McDonald’s.  See www.feingold.org to learn how to enjoy the food you love – fast food, slow food, and all that’s in between – without paying the high price of behavior and learning problems.

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