Food and Behaviour Research

Donate Log In

INCAP studies of malnutrition and cognitive behavior

Engle PL & Fernández PD. (2010) Food Nutr Bull.  31(1) 83-94. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here.

Abstract:

The Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) has made major contributions to the study of the effects of malnutrition on learning.

This report summarizes work on the relationship of nutrition to children's learning and development from the 1960's through 1998.

The Oriente Longitudinal Study examined the effects of two types of supplementation for mothers and young children on their growth and development (an energy-only drink compared with a protein-energy drink) using a quasi-experimental design. Both drinks were supplemented with micronutrients, and were offered daily.

As a result of the research on malnutrition and mental development, researchers could conclude by 1993 that supplementary feeding of infants and young children resulted in significant increases 
cognitive development and school performance through adolescence.

The research also suggested that the pathways that link malnutrition with later development are not only through the neurological system but also operate through changes in child behavior which affect the kinds of care children receive.

Other research on learning and development showed that families understood the concept of intelligence, demonstrated the link between micronutrients and 
cognitive development, and documented the amount of wastage or repetition and drop-out that occurs in Guatemalan schools.