Wednesday, June 19, 2013

IQ link with baby weight gain, University of Adelaide research shows

Consistent with the view that high IQ is just one aspect of generally superior biological fitness

A CHILD’S IQ is linked to weight gain during their first month of life, new University of Adelaide research shows.

The researchers found babies who put on 40 per cent of their birthweight within the first four weeks had an IQ 1.5 points higher by the time they were six years old, when compared to those who put on just 15 per cent of their birthweight in the same period.

Lead author of the study, public health researcher Dr Lisa Smithers, said the study was the first of its kind to focus on IQ benefits of rapid weight gain in the first month of life for healthy newborns.

“Those children who gained the most weight scored especially high on verbal IQ at age 6. This may be because the neural structures for verbal IQ develop earlier in life, which means rapid weight gain during that neonatal period could be having a direct cognitive benefit for the child,” she said.

The researchers analysed data from nearly 14,000 children who were born full-term.

The study also found infants with the biggest growth in head circumference also had the highest IQ.

“Head circumference is an indicator of brain volume, so a greater increase in head circumference in a newborn suggests more rapid brain growth,” Dr Smithers said.

But, she warned the study should not be seen as a reason to overfeed babies.

“We don’t want to send the message that parents should overfeed their baby to get a higher IQ,” she said.

“Babies should never be overfed, or force fed, but fed on demand which is consistent with the advice in our national guidelines.”

She also warned overfeeding could lead to other health problems such as obesity.

Dr Smithers said a 1.5 point increase in IQ was more important on a population level because you would not be able to tell if an individual child had an IQ 1.5 points higher than another.

Instead, she said the findings indicated the importance of identifying and managing any early feeding and growth issues.

“The take home message from this is that parents need to get help if they have any concerns about their baby’s growth.”

The study was published today in the international journal Pediatrics.


Britons consume fewer calories a day than 30 years ago... but are fatter

Suggesting that reduced exercise is the key factor in recent average weight gain

Researchers found that an average person eats 600 fewer calories each day than 30 years ago – a 20 per cent drop – but weighs 30lb more.

While snacks, sweets and takeaways have been ditched in favour of healthier options, the main cause of obesity is likely to be a decline in physical activity, it is claimed.

The 20 per cent drop in daily calorie intake is the equivalent of a burger and chips from a fast food restaurant or three pints of Guinness.

But the weight gain cannot be fully explained by lazy Brits adopting a couch potato lifestyle, said the five-year study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

Instead, it shows that as Britons get older they find it harder to keep their weight down.

This suggests adults become more susceptible as they get older to the effects of some sugars and fats in modern food, says the report.

The full study is to be published later this summer but details which have emerged show that the average adult Briton has cut down calories intake by around 600 calories a day.

This is almost entirely down to better food and drink habits in the home because the amount of calories consumed outside the home is up by 15 per cent over the same period.

At home, though, Britons today are having cereal for breakfast rather than fried food, using semi-skimmed milk, and eating more fish and less red meat. They are also drinking less alcohol.

However, outside the home they are eating and drinking more high calorie food, from burgers to lunchtime sandwiches and coffee shop lattes.

Added to this, an adult today is more likely to have a desk job during the day and more likely to spend time in front of a screen when home in the evening.

The average adult is putting on weight at an average of 0.25kg - just over half a pound - a year, said report author Professor Rachel Griffiths of the IFS.

But it means that a man in his twenties weighs around 7kg - 15lbs - more today than a man in his twenties did three decades ago.

And someone in their 50s weighs a staggering 14kg - 30lbs - more today than someone of the same age 30 years ago.

Professor Griffiths told industry journal The Grocer: ‘The drop in calories consumed would have been expected to have caused a weight loss of 1kg per year over the period.’

She said the link between the rise in obesity and the increased sugar in some foods could be behind the disparity in the figures.

She added: ‘We are looking at why certain age groups and people seem to be far more susceptible to weight gain.’


No comments: