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Margarine Consumption Linked to Lower IQ of Children

by: David Gutierrez

(NaturalNews) A recent study on dietary influences on IQ turned up a surprising connection: children who ate margarine regularly scored significantly lower on intelligence tests than their peers.

The study was conducted by researchers from Auckland University in New Zealand and published in the journal Intelligence.

Researchers studied the dietary intake and intelligence scores of children born in the mid-1990s.

"We found a number of dietary factors to be significantly associated with intelligence measures," the researchers said. "The association between margarine consumption and IQ scores was the most consistent and novel finding."

After adjusting for other factors that might influence IQ, including socioeconomic status, the researchers found that children who ate margarine daily scored three points lower on IQ tests by the age of three-and-a-half than children with lower margarine consumption.

By the age of seven, the average IQ scores of some margarine eaters were six points below those of their peers. This occurred only in children who had been born underweight, suggesting that disadvantaged brains might be more vulnerable to diet-induced problems.

Because the study was correlational, researchers were unable to determine what exactly caused the IQ gap between the two groups of children. They suspect, however, that the culprit may be transfats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils.

Formed by adding hydrogen atoms to unsaturated vegetable oils, transfats have a longer shelf life and are more solid at room temperature than natural vegetable oils. In the mid-1990s, margarines were made with up to 17 percent transfats. In recent years, however, scientists discovered that not only do transfats have no nutritional value, they also drastically increase the risk of heart attack and death in those who consume them.

Most margarines now contain approximately 1 percent transfats.

Sian Porter of the British Dietetic Association noted that while margarine tends to be healthier than butter, dietary consumption of both should be kept low.

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