Nutrition and Children’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ): Review

Review Article

Ann Nutr Disord & Ther. 2014;1(1): 1005.

Nutrition and Children’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ): Review

Hasanain Faisal Ghazi1*, Zaleha Md. Isa1, Rosnah Sutan1, Idayu Badilla Idris1 and Namaitijiang Maimaiti2

1Department of Community Health, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Malaysia

2International Institute for Global Health, United Nations University, Malaysia

*Corresponding author: Hasanain Faisal Ghazi, Department of Community Health, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Bandar TunRazak, Cheras, 56000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Received: July 18, 2014; Accepted: August 04, 2014; Published: August 08, 2014


Child nutrition especially during the early years is crucial for the development of the whole body and the mentally in specific. Mechanism by which the nutrition can affect the Intelligence is still questionable. Aim of this review was to identify the latest studies done in the last 5 years regarding nutrition and IQ of the children. Systematic review was done using Pubmed , searching engine, with words like nutrition, food, diet and IQ of the children. We include only orginal studies done in the last 5 years (from 2008-2013). Nineteen original articles were selected in 4 areas acoording to the outcomes of the studies, they are nutiritonal status, diet, breastfeeding and milk formaula. As a conclusion, Despite the long period since the studies on association between nutrition and intelligence began in last decade, this issue still under huge contraversay. There is no doubt about the importance of nutrition during the early years of child development, but is nutrient deficinces can lead to low intelligence.

Keywords: Nutrition; Intelligence Quitiont IQ; Child


Maintaining brain function is very important for cognitive development and also behaviroual performance. The most crucial factor is the supply of metabolic fuel to the brain in the form of glucose. This is maintained by complicated mechanisms involving several feedback loops and hormones to ensure that glycaemia is regulated and available at appropriate levels at all times. Mental activity should be protected from fluctuations in nutritional status from one meal to another.

Several studies done previously concluded that poor nutritional status could affect brain function and impact on cognition and behaviour development. According to Bellisle [1] if appropriate correction of nutrient deficiencies done it can lead to measurable improvement in cognition and even in situations of good nutritional status, the brain can be very sensitive to short-term fluctuation of glucose availability.

The relationship between poor health, nutrition and school achievement is well documented. Low anthropometric measurements (height for age, weight for height and head circumference) have been associated with poor school achievements [2-8]. In fact, in several of the studies the association remained significant, even after controlling for confounders such as socioeconomic factors. Iron-deficiency anaemia, missing breakfast and helminthic infections have also been reported to affect school performance [9-12].

Poor school performance may not be direct result of poor nutritional and health status, but may reflect multi-factorial issues such as poverty and under-nutrition. According to Zalilah et al. [13] malnutrition hinders cognitive development and is one of the contributing factors to generally poor school performance among children from low socio-economic communities. In addition, malnutrition can affect age of enrolment in school, concentration in class, attendance, and infection rates [14-16].

Previous studies done all over the world shows that treating nutritional and health conditions of school children can improve their academic performance. For example, some school food programmes have shown dramatic effects on attendance and school acheivments [14]. In Benin, children in schools provided food services scored significantly higher in tests than those in schools without food services [18].

The mechanism, by which nutrition can affect cognitive development, as Greenwood and Craig [19] stated, “There are at least three important ways in which diet may affect neurochemistry. First, the ingestion of food affects the availability of the precursors required for the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Second, food serves as the source of vitamins and minerals that are essential co-factors for the enzymes that synthesize neurotransmitters. Third, dietary fats alter the composition of the nerve cell membrane and myelin sheath, and that, in turn, influences neuronal function”.

Aim of this review was to identify the latest studies done in the last 5 years regarding the relationship between nutrition and Intelligence Quotient of the children.


Comprehensive literature review

Original articles were screened during the period from 1st January 2008 to 31st December 2013, using the following source PubMed. Several keywords were used, including ‘Nutrition’, ‘Diet’, ‘IQ’, ‘Gognitive’, ‘Children’, ‘Asscoiation’.

Selection criteria

Only orginal articles that specifically described “nutiriton and IQ from 2008 to 2013” were included in our study. Those review papers or describing nutrition alone as well as those that occurred before the year 2008 were excluded.

Citation: Ghazi HF, Md. Isa Z & Sutan R, Idris IB and Maimaiti N. Nutrition and Children’s Intelligence Quotient (Iq): Review. Ann Nutr Disord & Ther. 2014;1(1): 1005. ISSN:2381-8891