Can Fast Food Affect Students' Test Scores?

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Before you head to McDonalds for dinner again this week, listen to this! A new study from Ohio State University suggests that the amount of fast food kids eat can be linked to their school performance.

If kids reported eating at fast food restaurants frequently in fifth grade, their test scores in reading, math, and science were lower when they reached eighth grade. Their scores were approximately 20 percent lower than classmates who didn't eat greasy fries or burgers on a regular basis, according to an article on Science Daily.

Professor Kelly Purtell, the study's lead author, says:

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.

Researchers even made sure to consider a variety of factors that influence the test scores, including exercise routines, television habits, and other aspects of participants' diets. But regardless, the results remained the same: more fast food, lower test scores.

In regards to how parents should react to these results, Purtell explains:

We're not saying that parents should never feed their children fast food, but these results suggest fast-food consumption should be limited as much as possible.

The reason why fast-food affects test scores specifically remains unknown, but it could be related to the fact that it often lacks nutrients like iron that affect cognitive development. Plus, sugary foods can negatively impact the memory.

To learn more about nutrition, check out the "Sugar Shocker" story from the September issue of Choices! Choices is a teen health and life skills magazine for middle and high schoolers.