Research is showing that most preschool children develop a taste for salt, sugar and fat at their homes. In an experiment, researchers looked at the association between the taste preferences of more than 100 preschool children and their emerging awareness of brands of fast food and sugar-sweetened beverages. All of the children were able to pair at least some products with the companies that made them.
The results suggest that fast food and soda brand knowledge is linked to the development of a preference for sugar, fat and salt in food.
According to USA Today:
"Parents need to carefully consider the types of foods they give to young children at home and in restaurants ... Repeated exposure builds taste preferences."
A separate study also found that diets high in processed foods, fat and sugar are lowering children's IQ. Researchers found that a predominantly processed-food diet at the age of 3 is directly associated with a lower IQ at age 8.5. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals, on the other hand, helped boost kids' mental performance.
As The Guardian reported:
"Every one-point increase in the study's dietary pattern score – a record of processed fat intake – was associated with a 1.67-point fall in IQ … The brain grows at its fastest rate during the first three years of life.
"It is possible that good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal brain growth," the report added."