Fast food may lead to lower school results

Kids eating a big pizza.
Kids eating a big pizza.
A survey showed that fast-food consumption by 8,544 fifth-graders forecast lower academic achievement in eighth grade, according to the study published in Clinical Paediatrics.

Read: Fast food not main cause of kids' obesity

"These results provide initial evidence that fast-food consumption is associated with deleterious academic outcomes among children," the study by Ohio State University and University of Texas researchers said.

Fast food eaters behind

In terms of growth in achievement, the researchers found that eighth-graders who ate fast food daily were behind those who ate no fast food by four points in reading. They were behind by three points in math and four points in science.

The results may be caused by lower levels of nutrients in fast foods, especially iron.

The high level of fat and sugar often found in fast-food meals also can affect attention and reaction times, the report said.

Link remained intact despite exercise

The link between fast-food eating and academic performance remained intact even when such variables as physical activity, television watching and socioeconomic status were included, it said.

The study was based on data from a 2004 food consumption questionnaire in which 11,740 fifth-graders were asked how often they ate at fast-food restaurants.

10 percent eat fast food daily

More than two-thirds said they had eaten in a fast-food restaurant in the previous week. Just over half said they had eaten in a fast-food restaurant one to three times, and 10 percent ate in one daily.

The study cautioned that although fast-food availability has not changed dramatically since 2004, many fast-food restaurants have since removed Trans fats from their menus.

Partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of the fats, have been shown to raise "bad" cholesterol levels.

Read: Junk food, fast food are part of youth sports routine

It also said reporting error was possible and the study could be affected by other unmeasured factors.

Read More:

What you're really eating when you order fried chicken
Fast food advertising targets African American kids
Home-cooked meals beat fast food

Image: Kids with big pizza from Shutterstock.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes
34% - 9249 votes
No
66% - 17780 votes
Vote