HealthDay Reporter Fri Dec 15, 2:01 PM ET
FRIDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- As a child's IQ rises, his taste for meat in adulthood declines, a new study suggests.
British researchers have found that children's IQ predicts their likelihood of becoming vegetarians as young adults -- lowering their risk for cardiovascular disease in the process. The finding could explain the link between smarts and better health, the investigators say.
"We know from other studies that brighter children tend to behave in a healthier fashion as adults -- they're less likely to smoke, less likely to be overweight, less likely to have high blood pressure and more likely to take strenuous exercise," Gale said. "This study provides further evidence that people with a higher IQ tend to have a healthier lifestyle."
In the study, Gale's team collected data on nearly 8,200 men and women aged 30, whose IQ had been tested when they were 10 years of age.
"Children who scored higher on IQ tests at age 10 were more likely than those who got lower scores to report that they were vegetarian at the age of 30," Gale said.Vegetarians were more likely to be female, of higher social class and better educated, but IQ was still a significant predictor of being vegetarian after adjustment for these factors, Gale said.
"Vegetarian diets are associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk in a number of studies, so these findings suggest that a such a diet may help to explain why children or adolescents with a higher IQ have a lower risk of coronary heart disease as adults," Gale said.
One expert said the findings aren't the whole answer, however.
"This study left many unanswered questions such as: Did the vegetarian children grow up in a household with a vegetarian parent? Were meatless meals regularly served in the household? Were the children eating a primarily vegetarian diet at the age of 10?" said Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
"In addition, we don't know the beliefs or attitudes of the parents of the children, nor do we know if there was a particular event that led these children to becoming vegetarian in their teens or adulthood," Sandon said.
As the study showed, more women than men chose a vegetarian diet, Sandon noted. "Other research shows that women in general will focus more on their health than men. So, if they believe that a vegetarian diet will have health benefits, they are more likely to follow it," she said.
Given these factors, "we cannot draw any solid conclusions from this research," Sandon added.Another expert agreed that a vegetarian diet is healthy.
~Peace to all beings~