Researchers discovered a link between regularly eating fast food meals and a decline in intelligence among elementary students, according to Science Times.
The researchers noted that children who frequently snacked on popular fast food items such as burgers and French fries had lower test scores as compared to others who didn't.
The study was led by Kelly Purtell, an assistant professor at the Ohio State University. Purtell and her team of researchers from the University of Texas came up with their findings after sourcing the data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics on almost 12,000 students.
Using the data, the researchers focused on the academic performance and eating habits of fifth grade students.
They discovered that those whose weekly meals mainly consisted of fast food products had consistently lower test scores in math, reading and science subjects as compared to other students with a more balanced diet.
Purtell noted that the study shows that aside from health problems, a diet composed of junk food also has detrimental effects on children's academic development, CBS News reported.
"There's a lot of evidence that fast-food consumption is linked to childhood obesity, but the problems don't end there," she said in a statement. "Relying too much on fast food could hurt how children do in the classroom."
Although the researchers were not able to present a clear explanation regarding the effect of fast food consumption on academic performance, Purtell and her team emphasized that a correlation between the two exists.
The researchers then urged parents to monitor the eating habits of their children to protect their cognitive development.
"We're not saying that parents should never feed their children fast food, but these results suggest that fast food consumption should be limited as much as possible," she said.
The findings of the study were detailed in a report published by Clinical Pediatrics, an online journal that features medical and academic articles regarding the health of children.