A preliminary investigation of the effects of a Western diet on hippocampal volume in children
The aim of this 2020 study was to evaluate the impact of a Western Diet (WD) on the hippocampal volume in the 21 healthy children (aged 5-9) who participated. The children completed a structural T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scan and their bilateral hippocampal volumes and bilateral amygdala volumes were calculated. In addition, based on answers from the parent-completed Youth/Adolescent Food Frequency Questionnaire, the WD variables were determined as percent of daily calories consumed from sugars, fats, or a combination of these. The results showed that eating more fats was significantly associated with a smaller left hippocampal volume. There were no significant links between WD intake with bilateral hippocampal volumes, while sugar consumption was not related to hippocampal size, and the control region volumes were not connected to any diet variables. This finding that greater fat consumption correlates with decreased left hippocampal volume in children backs up the evidence shown previously by smaller left hippocampal volume related to obesity in older adults. Although these are preliminary results, Stadterman et al. (2020) are hopeful that this data is the breakthrough that allows the understanding of diet’s impact on child development.