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The influence of children’s diet on their cognition and behavior

Abstract

The rapid growth of the brain and its high metabolic rate suggests that it is reasonable to consider whether their diet may influence the cognitive development of children. To date although there are few nutritional recommendations that can be made with confidence, there is a growing body of evidence that diet can influence the development and functioning of the brain. Several lines of evidence support the view that the diet of the mother during pregnancy, and the diet of the infant in the perinatal period, have long-term consequences. The provision of fatty acids has been the most studied aspect of nutrition, although the evidence is lacking that supplementation has long-term benefits. There is increasing evidence that the missing of breakfast has negative consequences late in the morning and a working hypothesis is that meals of a low rather than high glycemic load are beneficial. The aim is to introduce a range of topics to those for whom this area is of potential interest. Where appropriate the main themes and conclusions are summarized and attention is drawn to review articles that allow those interested to go further.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the reviewers Bonnie Kaplan and Joachim Westenhöfer for their useful comments and discussions.

This work was commissioned by the Nutrition and Mental Performance Task Force of the European branch of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI Europe). Industry members of this task force are Barilla G. & R. Fratelli, Coca-Cola European Union Group, DSM, Groupe Danone, Kraft Foods, Nestlé, Südzucker/BENEO Group, Unilever and Wild Flavors. For further information about ILSI Europe, please call + 32-2-771.00.14 or email: info@ilsieurope.be. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of ILSI Europe.

Conflict of interests The author has no financial or other interests that might conflict with the views expressed.

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Benton, D., ILSI Europe a.i.s.b.l.. The influence of children’s diet on their cognition and behavior. Eur J Nutr 47, 25–37 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-008-3003-x

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Keywords

  • breakfast
  • brain development
  • food intolerance
  • malnutrition