Brainy Kids May Become Vegetarians

Study: 10-Year-Olds With Higher IQs Are More Likely to Be Vegetarians at 30

From the WebMD Archives

Dec. 14, 2006 -- Ten-year-olds with higher IQ scores may be more likely to be vegetarians at age 30.

So say British researchers including Catharine Gale, PhD, a senior research fellow at England's University of Southampton.

They studied 8,170 men and women who were born in the U.K. in 1970.

Participants took an IQ test when they were 10 years old. Twenty years later, they were asked whether they were currently vegetarians.

The vast majority said they weren't vegetarians, but 366 said they were.

They included nine vegans (who eat no animal products, such as meat, dairy products, and eggs) and 123 people who called themselves vegetarians despite eating fish and chicken.

Those with higher IQ scores at age 10 were more likely to be vegetarians at age 30. The difference in IQ points was about five points, the study shows. There was no difference in IQ score between strict vegetarians and the vegetarians who ate fish or chicken.

The results held when Gale's team took participants' income, social class, and education into consideration.

It's not clear how long participants had been vegetarians, or what (if any) relationship vegetarianism has to IQ scores.

The study appears online in BMJ, formerly called the British Medical Journal.

The journal notes that of the four researchers who worked on the study, two say they're "lapsed" vegetarians, one is a "committed" vegetarian, and one calls himself an "omnivore," meaning he eats meat as well as plants.

Three of the researchers say they've never taken an IQ test. The fourth (the omnivore) "opts not to disclose" his IQ, the journal states.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on December 14, 2006

Sources

SOURCES: Gale, C. BMJ Online First, Dec. 15, 2006. News release, BMJ.

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