Food and Behaviour Research

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Associations of diet quality with cognition in children - the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children Study

Haapala EA, Eloranta AM, Venäläinen T, Schwab U, Lindi V, Lakka TA. (2015) Br J Nutr. Aug 14: 1-8. [Epub ahead of print] 

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Evidence on the associations of dietary patterns with cognition in children is limited. Therefore, we investigated the associations of the Baltic Sea Diet Score (BSDS) and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) score with cognition in children.

The present cross-sectional study sample included 428 children aged 6–8 years (216 boys and 212 girls). The BSDS and the DASH score were calculated using data from 4 d food records, higher scores indicating better diet quality. Cognition was assessed by the Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices (CPM) score, a higher score indicating better cognition.

Among all children, the BSDS (standardised regression coefficient β = 0·122, 
P =0·012) and the DASH score (β = 0·121, P =0·015) were directly associated with the Raven's CPM score. Among boys, a lower BSDS (β = 0·244, P< 0·001) and a lower DASH score (β = 0·202, P= 0·003) were related to a lower Raven's CPM score. Boys in the lowest quartile of the BSDS (22·5 v. 25·3, P= 0·029) and the DASH score (22·4 v. 25·7, P= 0·008) had a lower Raven's CPM score than those in the highest quartile of the corresponding score. Among girls, the BSDS or the DASH score were not associated with cognition.

In conclusion, a poorer diet quality was associated with worse cognition in children, and the relationship was stronger in boys than in girls.