Public Health Nutrition

Nutrition and health

Refined carbohydrate intake in relation to non-verbal intelligence among Tehrani schoolchildren

Amin Salehi Abargoueia1a2, Naser Kalantaria3, Nasrin Omidvara3, Bahram Rashidkhania3, Anahita Houshiar Rada4, Azizeh Afkham Ebrahimia5, Hossein Khosravi-Boroujenia1 and Ahmad Esmaillzadeha1a2 c1

a1 Food Security Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Islamic Republic of Iran

a2 Department of Community Nutrition, School of Nutrition and Food Science, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, PO Box 81745, Isfahan, Islamic Republic of Iran

a3 Department of Community Nutrition, Faculty of Nutrition and Food Technology, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

a4 National Nutrition and Food Technology Institute, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

a5 Mental Health Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Abstract

Objective Nutrition has long been considered one of the most important environmental factors affecting human intelligence. Although carbohydrates are the most widely studied nutrient for their possible effects on cognition, limited data are available linking usual refined carbohydrate intake and intelligence. The present study was conducted to examine the relationship between long-term refined carbohydrate intake and non-verbal intelligence among schoolchildren.

Design Cross-sectional study.

Setting Tehran, Iran.

Subjects In this cross-sectional study, 245 students aged 6–7 years were selected from 129 elementary schools in two western regions of Tehran. Anthropometric measurements were carried out. Non-verbal intelligence and refined carbohydrate consumption were determined using Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices test and a modified sixty-seven-item FFQ, respectively. Data about potential confounding variables were collected. Linear regression analysis was applied to examine the relationship between non-verbal intelligence scores and refined carbohydrate consumption.

Results Individuals in top tertile of refined carbohydrate intake had lower mean non-verbal intelligence scores in the crude model (P < 0·038). This association remained significant after controlling for age, gender, birth date, birth order and breast-feeding pattern (P = 0·045). However, further adjustments for mother's age, mother's education, father's education, parental occupation and BMI made the association statistically non-significant. We found a significant inverse association between refined carbohydrate consumption and non-verbal intelligence scores in regression models (β = −11·359, P < 0·001). This relationship remained significant in multivariate analysis after controlling for potential confounders (β = −8·495, P = 0·038).

Conclusions The study provides evidence indicating an inverse relationship between refined carbohydrate consumption and non-verbal intelligence among Tehrani children aged 6–7 years. Prospective studies are needed to confirm our findings.

(Received May 07 2011)

(Accepted November 09 2011)

(Online publication December 09 2011)

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Email esmaillzadeh@hlth.mui.ac.ir

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