A new British study has found that having a high IQ as a child is significantly linked to being a vegatarian as an adult.

The study was led by Dr Catharine Gale, of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Resource Centre, University of Southampton, UK, and is published in the British Medical Journal.

The scientists contacted over 8,000 men and women aged 30 who were born in April 1970 and had had their IQ tested at age 10 because they were part of the 1970 British Cohort Study. They found a strong link between high IQ at age 10 and having a vegetarian diet at age 30.

366 of the participants described themselves as vegetarian, of which 123 said they also ate fish or chicken. Most of the vegetarians were women of higher social class and well educated although their income levels varied widely. However, when the results were adjusted for sex, social class (in childhood and present day), education and qualifications, high childhood IQ and having a vegetarian diet as an adult were still strongly correlated. Also, leaving out the ones who also ate chicken and fish made no difference to the strength of the link between childhood IQ and being vegetarian as an adult.

The research was conducted because of the growing body of scientific evidence showing that a vegetarian diet is linked with lower levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Scientists want to know what influences people to become vegetarian.

The researchers define vegetarianism as “the practice of living wholly on vegetable food, with or without dairy products, honey and eggs”.

Benjamin Franklin, founding father of the United States of America and leader of the Enlightenment, once said that being vegetarian gave him a clearer head and quicker comprehension.

Other well known vegetarians include Leonardo da Vinci, Plato, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Catherine Booth (founder of the Salvation Army), George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein and Adolf Hitler.

According to the Vegetarian Society (UK), in 1945 there were 100,000 vegetarians in the UK. The latest figure is estimated to be 4 million. However, statistics are hard to determine because of the growing number of what has been termed “flexitarians”, vegetarians who occasionally eat meat and carnivores who eat the occasional vegetarian meal.

A growing awareness of the impact of diet on health, the influence of Eastern philosophies and religions such as Buddhism, concern for animal welfare and the effect of intensive animal farming, range among the reasons that people gravitate toward vegetarianism.

“IQ in childhood and vegetarianism in adulthood: 1970 British cohort study”
Catharine R Gale, Ian J Deary, Ingrid Schoon, G David Batty, G David Batty
BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.39030.675069.55 (published 15 December 2006)

Click here for abstract.

Written by: Catharine Paddock
Writer: Medical News Today