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Margarine makes children more stupid

The more margarine children consume, the less intelligent they are, write epidemiologists from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in Intelligence. They studied a group of 871 children.

Margarine makes children more stupid
People who eat a healthy diet are cleverer, and therefore people who eat healthy fatty acids are also cleverer. The more polyunsaturated fatty acids you consume, the higher your IQ. Fish fatty acids in particular correlate positively with intelligence. A diet with high levels of saturated fatty acids is not good for your IQ.

Because the New Zealanders wanted to know more about the relationship between diet and intelligence, they followed a group of 871 children for seven years after their birth in 1995-6.

The researchers recorded the children's diet using a questionnaire, and measured their intelligence at the age of three-and-a-half using a specially tailored IQ test.

The effect of diet on IQ is shown in the table below.

Margarine makes children more stupid

The relevant effects are those indicated by a little p. The more meals with bread or cereals per day, the higher the children's IQ. The intake of margarine correlates negatively with IQ. The first effect disappeared when the researchers corrected their figures for factors such as the parents' education and income but the negative margarine-effect remained unchanged. Children who ate margarine less than once a day scored an average of 4 points higher in the IQ tests.

After another three-and-a-half years, when the children were 7, the researchers repeated their measurements.

Margarine makes children more stupid

Now fish had become a positive factor, but this effect disappeared almost completely when the researchers corrected their data. But when they did this, the negative margarine effect became statistically significant once again. For the nitpickers: p became 0.001.

The researchers refer to the negative effect of margarine consumption as "the most consistent and novel finding" of their study.

They suspect that the trans fatty acids in the margarines reduced the children's intelligence. Trans fatty acids are a basic ingredient in margarines, especially the cheaper ones.

Intelligence Volume 37, Issue 5, September-October 2009, Pages 506-513.

Healthy margarine makes you depressed, olive oil brightens you up 31.03.2010