Visceral Adiposity and Diet Quality Are Differentially Associated With Cognitive Abilities and Early Academic Skills Among Preschool-Age Children

Naiman A. Khan, Corinne Cannavale, Samantha Iwinski, Ruyu Liu, Gabriella M. McLoughlin, Linda G. Steinberg, Anne M. Walk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and diet quality influence cognitive health in preadolescents; however, these relationships remain understudied among preschool-age children. Objectives: Investigate the relationship between VAT, diet quality, academic skills, and cognitive abilities among preschool-age children. Methods: Children between 4 and 5 years (N = 57) were enrolled in a cross-sectional study. Woodcock Johnson Early Cognitive and Academic Development Test (ECAD™) was utilized to assess General Intellectual Ability, Early Academic Skills, and Expressive Language. DXA was used to assess VAT. Diet quality was measured using the Healthy Eating Index-2015 (HEI-2015) based on 7-day food records. Results: Greater VAT was associated with poorer Early Academic Skills (r = −0.28, P = 0.03) whereas a diet pattern that included Fatty Acids, Whole Grains, Saturated Fats, Seafood and Plant Proteins, Total Vegetables, and Dairy was positively associated with General Intellectual Ability (r = 0.26, P = 0.04). Conclusions: Higher VAT is negatively related to Early Academic Skills whereas diet quality was positively and selectively related to intellectual abilities among preschool-age children. These findings indicate that the negative impact of abdominal adiposity on academic skills is evident as early as preschool-age while providing preliminary support for the potentially beneficial role of diet quality on cognitive abilities in early childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number548
JournalFrontiers in Pediatrics
Volume7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 14 2020

Keywords

  • abdominal obesity
  • childhood
  • intelligence
  • neuropsychology
  • nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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