With an estimated 70 percent of the American diet made up of processed foods , we — as a collective — are facing a serious conundrum in which if greater effort is not given to make wholesome, more nutritious fare a priority (with many countries following the lead of the United States), incoming generations will not only not live as long as their parents , they won’t be near as intelligent either.
According to a recent study  conducted by the Avon Longitudinal study of Parents and Children, diets high in fat, sugar, and processed foods are lowering children’s IQ. The report shares that eating habits among three year-olds shapes brain performance as they get older.
Furthermore, a predominantly processed-food diet at the age of three is directly linked with lower intelligence at the age of eight and a half, according to the Bristol-based study.
Found by tracking the long-term health and well-being of around 14,000 children, what this study re-affirms is that there really are no more excuses for eating low-quality fare.
The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reports : “Food packed with vitamins and nutrients notably helped boost mental performance as youngsters got older.”
There is good news, however. If one implements change as soon as possible, it is possible for intelligence to improve with age and better eating habits. The Guardian  reports that “toddlers’ diets could change IQ levels later in childhood, even if eating habits improve with age.”
“This suggests that any cognitive/behavioral effects relating to eating habits in early childhood may well persist into later childhood, despite any subsequent changes to dietary intake,” the authors of the study wrote.
Parents of children participating in the study completed questionnaires detailing the types and frequency of the food and drink their young ones consumed when they were three, four, seven, and eight-and-a-half years old. What was found is that with every one-point increase in the study’s dietary pattern score — a record of processed fat intake — IQ fell an average of 1.67 points.
Documentaries like Fast Food Baby  bring to attention the very real epidemic we as a global society are facing. With low-quality and cheap fast food options available, many parents are finding it difficult to not only make healthy choices themselves, but inspire their youngsters to eat more nutritious fare as well.
But the importance of getting kids to eat their fruits and vegetables cannot be understated. As the brain grows its fastest rate during the first three years of life,“It is possible that good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal grain growth,” stated the report.
The School Food Trust’s director of research, Michael Nelson, said: