Thursday, September 15, 2016

Can a "correct" diet make you smarter?

The report below would seem to say so.  A small group of Finnish children who ate a traditional Finnish diet that was low on red meat, fat and sugar had better reading skills in third grade than did other kids in their classes.  And the study was a careful one with obvious confounding factors like social class ruled out.  What is to quarrel with there?

A lot.  Correlation is not causation and not all possible confounding factors were ruled out.  As is commonly the case, the researchers did not ask WHY some kids got a traditional diet while others did not. 

An obvious possibility is that the parents who took the trouble to feed their children a traditionally "correct" diet were health conscious generally and that all we are seeing is the outcome of greater health consciousness.  Finland is a modern country so it  would undoubtedly have been easiest to feed kids Western convenience foods -- with their high levels of fat and sugar.  So the parents who did not do that stood out and may have had other different practices relevant to health -- avoidance of psychoactive drugs, for instance.

Poor health is indeed associated with damage to IQ so the dimmer students may simply have been less well-cared for generally.

Other points to ponder is that the sample was small, that the effects were statistically significant but small and that abilities at third grade are only weakly correlated with abilities in later life.  IQ rankings even in the teenage years can wash out in adulthood.

These observational studies are all well and good but there is no substitute for a controlled before-and-after study.  I include the journal abstract below.

Children who eat fruit, vegetables, fish, and whole grains in their first three years of school do far better in tests than their peers with poor diets, the study found.

The findings, from the University of Eastern Finland, were independent of children's socio-economic status, physical fitness, and body type.

It suggests healthy foods impact the brain in a way we do not fully appreciate, and could provide important evidence for public health policymakers globally.

The study involved 161 children aged between six and eight years old, and followed up on them from the first grade to the third grade in school.

The quality of their diet was analysed using food diaries, and their academic skills with the help of standardized tests.

The closer the diet followed the Baltic Sea Diet (high in vegetables, fruit and berries, fish, whole grain, and unsaturated fats and low in red meat, sugary products, and saturated fat) the healthier it was considered.

The study showed that children whose diet was rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grain, fish and unsaturated fats, and low in sugar, did the best in reading tests.

These healthy-eating children also showed the most progress in reading skills between grades one and three, compared to their peers with low-quality diets. 

'Another significant observation is that the associations of diet quality with reading skills were also independent of many confounding factors, such as socio-economic status, physical activity, body adiposity, and physical fitness,' Dr Eero Haapala of the University of Eastern Finland said


Diet quality and academic achievement: a prospective study among primary school children

Eero A. Haapala et al.


Purpose:  Poor diet quality may impair academic achievement in children, but such evidence is limited. Therefore, we investigated the associations of healthy diet in Grade 1 assessed by Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), Baltic Sea Diet Score (BSDS), and Finnish Children Healthy Eating Index (FCHEI) with academic achievement in Grades 1–3 in children.

Methods: The participants were 161 Finnish children who were 6–8 years old in Grade 1 and attended in a large ongoing physical activity and dietary intervention study. Dietary factors were assessed using 4-day food records, and MDS, BSDS, and FCHEI were calculated. Academic achievement was assessed by reading fluency, reading comprehension, and arithmetic skill tests. The data were analyzed using linear regression analysis and analysis of covariance adjusted for age, sex, parental education, household income, body fat percentage, physical activity, the PANIC Study group, and total energy intake.

Results: MDS was positively associated with reading comprehension in Grade 3 (standardized regression coefficient β = 0.167, P = 0.032). BSDS was positively associated with reading fluency in Grades 2–3 and reading comprehension in Grades 1–3 (β = 0.161–0.274, P < 0.05). FCHEI was positively related to reading fluency in Grades 1–2 and reading comprehension in Grades 1–3 (β = 0.190–0.344, P < 0.05). Children in the highest third of BSDS and FCHEI had better reading fluency and reading comprehension in Grades 1–3 than children in the lowest third (P < 0.05). None of the diet scores was associated with arithmetic skills.

Conclusions:  Healthier diet assessed by BSDS or FCHEI in Grade 1 was associated with better reading skills, but not with arithmetic skills, among children in Grades 1–3. Long-term intervention studies are needed to investigate the effects of improvements in diet quality on academic achievement among children.

Haapala, E.A., Eloranta, A., Venäläinen, T. et al. Eur J Nutr (2016). doi:10.1007/s00394-016-1270-5

The strange priorities of the British cops

They will leap into action if you say anything critical of  Muslims or homosexuals but they are too lazy for normal police work.  You have to get them exposed in a newspaper before they get off their fat behinds

A single mother tracked down the thief who stole her £470 iPad Air 2 only for the police to tell her to arrest him herself because they were too busy.

Sara Gration, 37, from Derby, called the police after her Find My iPhone app told her the stolen device had been switched on.

The app gave the name of the street where the iPad was and she dialled 101 and told police the information.

But she was left reeling when an officer told the mum-of-two officers were busy and suggested she should go to the street herself and to 'knock on his door'.

Ms Gration said: 'I couldn't believe it, I was asked to turn detective myself and was sent to a house where I could have been put in danger.. 'I was basically being asked to be a police officer and arrest the man by myself. What on earth am I paying my taxes for if I have to do the police's work for them?

'Short of actually handcuffing the thief and dragging them to the police station, I don't know what more I could have done to help the police catch the thief.

'I appreciate that having your car broken into isn't exactly crime of the century and that it isn't a priority for them.

'But how can this be the right advice to give? Derbyshire Police put me at risk rather than following up themselves. I am disgusted.'

Ms Gration, a bookkeeper, had her £469 gold-coloured iPad Air 2 stolen overnight last Thursday when her car was broken into outside her home.

Several items were stolen, including the iPad which was in the boot of the car.

The divorced mother-of-two, who has daughters Isabella, nine, and Tamsin, seven, was alerted to the theft by a neighbour.

She reported the incident to the police who told her they would not be able to send an officer out and instead asked her to ask locally if anyone had any CCTV.

Derbyshire Police have now apologised 'unreservedly' to Ms Gration for the blunder.

Superintendent Tracy Harrison said: 'We apologise unreservedly to Ms Gration. The advice she received on Friday was wrong and further training will be given to the call handler who dealt with her call.

'We should never advise anyone to put themselves in a dangerous situation to recover stolen items.

'An officer should have been allocated to make the inquiries that Ms Gration was asked to do.

'We were made aware of this mistake on Sunday and since then have sent an officer to make inquiries. Unfortunately we haven't yet recovered the iPad.'


Dem Scheme Would Mandate Abortion Funding

California is actively seeking to censor pro-lifers for last year’s horrifying Planned Parenthood revelations, but it’s not the only liberal enclave using the bully pulpit and rule-making prowess as retaliation against conservatives. Last summer’s startling video footage from the Center for Medical Progress caught some Planned Parenthood clinics unlawfully selling baby parts to fatten their coffers. The ensuing backlash resulted in clinical closings and monetary constrictions in more than a dozen red states. Now, the Obama administration is working on an insidious backdoor proposal to force states to fund the nation’s largest abortion provider.

According to a report in The Washington Times, “The Department of Health and Human Services rule would prevent states from redirecting Title X funds, which are earmarked for family planning services, to other Federally Qualified Health Centers for reasons ‘unrelated to their ability to provide Title X services effectively.’ Rep. Diane Black, a Tennessee Republican who wrote the House-approved ‘Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015,’ said the rule is just the latest ‘stunt’ by the Obama administration to ‘protect its friends in the big abortion industry.’”

“Additionally,” the Times further notes, “because the Hyde Amendment already prevents federal dollars from being used for abortions, the agency argues, it is unreasonable to redirect Title X funds from centers that perform abortions, especially when doing so would ‘adversely affect accessibility of Title X services.’” Well, the law didn’t stop Planned Parenthood from pocketing loads of cash from fetal harvesting “research.” Are we also to believe that the organization doesn’t use taxpayer dollars to promote abortion? Like everything else his administration does, Obama is defaulting to the regulatory state and misusing its authority to accomplish his goals. Even if it costs human lives.


My fury at our wasted foreign aid: International development secretary Priti Patel pledges a major overhaul of the £12billion budget

British aid money is being wasted and stolen, the International Development Secretary declares today.

In her first intervention since taking the job, Priti Patel says UK taxpayers have every right to feel furious. And she promises a major overhaul of the £12billion aid budget to make it finally ‘deliver for our national interests’.

But – in a move that will enrage some Tory backbenchers – she reveals the Government will continue to send abroad cash worth 0.7 per cent of national income.

Her blueprint – exclusively revealed in a Daily Mail article – includes:

     Pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into foreign hotspots to deter ‘mass migration’ to the UK and mainland Europe;

    Turning off the aid taps to the EU, which has been accused of squandering vast sums of British money;

    Using aid cash to boost UK trade and exports in the wake of Brexit.

Miss Patel’s plans are a huge breakthrough for the Mail’s long campaign to end the foreign aid madness.

This newspaper has chronicled how public money has been squandered on everything from reducing flatulence in Colombian cattle to creating an Ethiopian version of the Spice Girls.

Miss Patel, who once called for the Department for International Development to be abolished, delivers the bluntest critique of the aid budget ever made by a Cabinet minister.

And she insists that – despite the efforts of her predecessors to get better value for money – urgent improvements are needed in how the cash is spent.

‘We need to face facts,’ writes Miss Patel. ‘Too much aid doesn’t find its way through to those who really need it. And too often, money is spent without a proper focus on results and outcomes that allow the poorest to stand on their own two feet.

‘It rightly infuriates taxpayers when money that is intended for the world’s poorest people is stolen or wasted on inappropriate projects. I am infuriated.

‘My predecessors worked hard to make sure that British aid ends up where it should. But we can improve.

‘I want to use our aid budget to directly address the great global challenges that affect the UK – like creating jobs in poorer countries so as to reduce the pressure for mass migration to Europe.’

Miss Patel, who has spent the past two months scrutinising every aspect of the development programme, also delivers a withering rebuke to the multi-billion pound aid industry.

She says: ‘Some participants in the aid debate are resistant to criticism and sometimes unwilling to understand or even acknowledge genuine concerns.’

But – in a move which will infuriate some Tory backbenchers – she reveals that Theresa May’s Government will continue to send abroad cash equivalent to 0.7 per cent of the UK’s GDP.

The decision to stick to David Cameron’s target means Britain will continue to lavish £12billion on aid every year.

Some Tory MPs had hoped the new Government would have swept away the former PM’s pledge. But doing so would have triggered a massive political row at a time when Mrs May is already dealing with Brexit and reintroducing grammar schools.

Miss Patel says: ‘A well-financed aid budget is a means to an end, not an end in itself. ‘It is there to deliver tangible results for the world’s poorest people, helping them stand on their own two feet so they don’t need aid in the future – and in so doing, build a safer, more prosperous world for the UK.’

Officials have been told to find ways of targeting spending at countries from which the largest numbers of migrants head for Britain and Europe.

By pouring huge sums into job creation, she hopes migrants can be deterred from getting on boats in the first place – and ending up in the Jungle at Calais or in the UK.

Miss Patel, a leading Brexit campaigner, also hints that she will stop tipping around £1.5billion a year into the EU’s coffers, for Brussels to spend how it chooses.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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