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fast foodThe amount of fast food kids eat may be linked to how well they do in school, a new study from Ohio State University suggests.

Researchers found that the more frequently children ate fast food in fifth grade, the lower their test scores in reading, math, and science once they reached eighth grade. The results remained even after the researchers took into account how much the kids exercised, how much TV they watched, what other food they ate, their family’s socioeconomic status, and the characteristics of their neighborhood and school.

The connection may be due to the fact that fast food lacks certain nutrients, especially iron, that help cognitive development, says lead study author Kelly Purtell, Ph.D. In addition, diets high in fat and sugar—similar to fast-food meals—have been shown to impair memory and learning.

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