Wondering how to make your kids smarter? Well, giving them fish once a week and feeding them with bread and cereals four times a day can make a lot of difference, claims a Kiwi study.

The study from University of Otago revealed what parents should feed their children to make them smarter.

It suggests that eating certain types of food may boost or significantly lower kids’ IQ.

Eating margarine has shown strong links with lower IQ scores.

The thesis by University of Otago research fellow Dr Reremoana Theodore, calls for further research into margarine and says children from disadvantaged families could be most at risk as margarine is often cheaper than other spreads.

She found that children eating margarine daily have “significantly lower intelligence scores”.

It is believed that trans-fatty acids in margarine could be to blame might be responsible for low IQs

Richard Swinbourne, a dietitian who works with schools in the Taranaki region, says the findings need to be seen as part of a wider picture.

“You could have a child having margarine but if they were having a couple of bits of fruit a day, and going to school with breakfast, and physically active… I’m sure they would overshoot someone that wasn’t having the margarine, alone,” the NZPA quoted him as saying.

Along with the fish and bread Swinbourne also emphasises the importance of children eating breakfast.

In the study conducted over 600 New Zealand European children, as well as detailing the pregnancy of each mother. Theodore studied the effect of certain factors on children’s intelligence.

She found that mothers who drank moderate amounts of alcohol while pregnant had children with much higher IQs, than those who did not.

However, Alcohol Advisory Council says this result seems to be “at odds with the great body of evidence linking alcohol to poor health outcomes for the foetus”.

“There is no known safe level of consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and both Alac and the Ministry of Health advise pregnant women to avoid all alcohol,” said council’s acting chief executive, Dr Andrew Hearn.

Dietician Jacquie Dale says children don’t need margarine, butter or other “blended” spreads on their sandwiches instead, parents should look for substitutes that are low in saturated fat, not overly processed and that contain some “goodies”.

This may include peanut butter, hummus, cottage cheese, a thin slice of cheese, or chutney.

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Researchers at Imperial College London, the French National Research Institute CNRS and other international institutions have discovered three new genetic variations that increase the risk of obesity, giving new insight into the reasons why some people become fat and others don’t.

They suggest that if each acted independently, these variants could be responsible for up to 50 percent of cases of severe obesity.

According to researchers, the new findings should ultimately provide the tools to predict which young children are at risk of becoming obese.

For the study, the researchers looked at the genetic makeup of obese children under six and morbidly obese adults, most of whom had been obese since childhood or adolescence, and compared this with age matched people of normal weight.

The researchers discovered three previously unidentified genetic variations that increase the risk of severe obesity significantly.

The gene variant most strongly linked to childhood obesity and adult morbid obesity in the study is located near the PTER gene, the function of which is not known.

This variant is estimated to account for up to a third of all childhood obesity, and a fifth of all cases of adult obesity.

The second variant linked to child and adult obesity is found in the NPC1 gene.

Previous studies in mice have suggested that this gene has a role in controlling appetite, as mice with a non-functioning NPC1 gene suffer late-onset weight loss and have poor food intake.

This gene variant accounts for around 10 per cent of all childhood obesity and about 14 per cent of adult morbid obesity cases.

The final variant is found near the MAF gene, which controls the production of the hormones insulin and glucagon, as well as chains of amino acids called glucagon-like peptides.

These hormones and peptides are known to play key roles in people’s metabolisms by metabolising glucose and carbohydrates in the body. Also, glucagon and glucagon-like peptides appear to have a strong effect on people’s ability to feel ‘full’ or satiated after eating.

This variant accounts for about 6 per cent of early-onset obesity in children, and 16 per cent of adult morbid obesity.

The researchers reached their conclusions by conducting a genome-wide association study of 1,380 Europeans with early-onset childhood obesity and adult morbid obesity, and 1,416 age-matched normal weight controls.

The study revealed 38 genetic markers with a strong association to a higher than normal body mass index, which the researchers evaluated in 14,186 Europeans, identifying three mutations that are significantly linked to obesity.

The study is published in the journal Nature Genetics.

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Dieting help in middle age

January 5, 2009

Trying to eat less can be beneficial to stave off middle-age weight gain in women, according to a new study.

Researchers have found that those women who did not practice more restraint on their eating, over the time, had more than twice the risk of substantial weight gain.

“Some suggest that restrained eating is not a good practice,” said Brigham Young University professor Larry Tucker, the study’s lead author.

In the study involving 192 middle-aged women, the researchers have found that women who did not become more restrained with eating were 138 percent more likely to put on 6.6 pounds or more.

Columbia University researcher Lance Davidson, who was not involved with the analysis, said the findings highlight an important principle of weight management.

“Because the body’s energy requirements progressively decline with age, energy intake must mirror that decrease or weight gain occurs,” he said.

“Dr. Tucker’s observation that women who practice eating restraint avoid the significant weight gain commonly observed in middle age is an important health message,” he added.

“Weight gain and obesity bring a greater risk of diabetes and a number of other chronic diseases. Eating properly is a skill that needs to be practiced,” said Tucker.

The study appears in American Journal of Health Promotion.

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