Food and Behaviour Research

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Dietary patterns and cognitive ability among 12- to 13 year-old adolescents in Selangor, Malaysia.

Nurliyana AR, Mohd Nasir MT, Zalilah MS, Rohani A (2015) Public Health Nutr.   [Epub ahead of print] 

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The present study aimed to identify dietary patterns and determine the relationship between dietary patterns and cognitive ability among12- to 13 year-old Malay adolescents in the urban areas of Gombak district in SelangorMalaysia.


Data on sociodemographic background were obtained from parents. Height and weight were measured and BMI-for-age was determined.Adolescents were interviewed on their habitual dietary intakes using a semi-quantitative FFQ. Cognitive ability was assessed using the Wechsler Nonverbal Scale of Ability in a one-to-one manner. Dietary patterns were constructed using principal component analysis based on thirty-eight food groups of the semi-quantitative FFQ.


Urban secondary public schools in the district of Gombak in SelangorMalaysia.


Malay adolescents aged 12 to 13 years (n 416).


The mean general cognitive ability score was 101·8 (sd 12·4). Four major dietary patterns were identified and labelled as 'refined-grain pattern', 'snack-food pattern', 'plant-based food pattern' and 'high-energy food pattern'. These dietary patterns explained 39·1 % of the variance in the habitual dietary intakes of the adolescents. The refined-grain pattern was negatively associated with processing speed, which is a construct of generalcognitive ability. The high-energy food pattern was negatively associated with general cognitive ability, perceptual reasoning and processing speed. Monthly household income and parents' educational attainment were positively associated with all of the cognitive measures. In multivariate analysis, only the high-energy food pattern was found to contribute significantly towards general cognitive ability after controlling for socio-economic status.


Consumption of foods in the high-energy food pattern contributed towards general cognitive ability after controlling for socio-economic status. However, the contribution was small.