Sunday, February 13, 2011

Is junk food making kids dumb and destroying America?

Politicians love to cite reports that demonstrate dramatic declines in the test scores of American children.

A recent test, called the Program for International Student Assessment, which is administered internationally every three years, found American kids lagging behind peers in several foreign countries, most especially those in South Korea, Finland, Singapore and China.

The knee-jerk explanation for the American shortfall gravitates to culture. American kids watch too much TV, play too many video games and are too obsessed with social networking and popular culture to focus on math and science.

But what is the role of diet, tap water and toxins in declining American test scores? Recent studies and reports paint an alarming picture. In a nutshell, a variety of conditions pervasive in the United States have been found to measurably lower the IQ of children.

Research at the University of Bristol found a strong correlation between process junk food and lower IQs, as well as healthy diets and high IQs.

A recent British meta-study and a separate Chinese study found that fluoride reduces the measurable intelligence of children. It has been re-classified as a neurotoxin that retards the intellectual development of the brain. Fluoride has been added to public drinking water and toothpaste in the United States for decades.

Manganese, which is present in many sources of drinking water, has also been determined to reduce the intelligence of children. It can also contribute to memory loss, anxiety and aggressiveness.

Mothers who ingest a chemical in a common insecticide called piperonyl butoxide have lower-than-average IQ children -- nearly 4 points lower, on average.

Exposure by pregnant women to other toxins, such as lead, mercury and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have also been found to lower IQs of their offspring, and have been detected in more than 99 percent of pregnant American women. Lead has been found in wide range of toys, paints and other low-cost products (mostly made in China). Mercury accumulates in some species of fish. PCBs are now banned, but in the past have been used for the manufacture of lights, plastics, paints, glue and a wide range of other uses.

These are only some of the very recent studies linking dietary and environmental conditions that decrease intelligence.

The average American child is affected not by one of these phenomenon but all or most of them in combination.

Cultural causes of low American test scores are speculative. But nutritional and environmental causes of lowered IQs have now been demonstrated.

Retired military leaders have already highlighted the problem that a majority of young people are too fat, unhealthy or have other problems to be eligible for military service. Few question the fact that this crisis has been brought about by junk food, processed food, environmental toxins and sedentary lifestyles.

Now, we know that these same factors are making Americans unable to compete intellectually in  industries of tomorrow.

Nearly all of these factors are caused by laws enacted by our representatives in government. Junk food is actually subsidized by our taxes. The addition of fluoride to the water supply is required by law. And most of the other toxins are allowed by law, despite their toxic effects on children. 

While politicians divert attention from the real crisis by continuing to focus on how we pay for health insurance, the nation's politicians are dramatically lowering the intelligence of the public by supporting, allowing or requiring foods and chemicals known to lower IQ.

While there's little anyone can do in the short-term about public policy, you can protect yourself and your family from all of this. Eat organic, natural food made from scratch at home and avoid all processed food, fast food and packaged food. Filter your tap water with a Brita filter or some other kind of water filtration system. Filter the air in your home (buy one with an actual filter that can be cleaned or changed). Replace conventional household cleaning and other supplies with less toxic products. Never use pesticides in or around your home. Eat only fish that is low in mercury (salmon, sardines, etc.,).