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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Dietary Influences on Psychological and Physiological Function in Children

Location: Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center

Project Number: 6026-51000-010-01
Project Type: Specific Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 01, 2010
End Date: Jul 31, 2015

Objective:
The long-term objectives of this project are to determine the influence of dietary factors on growth, physiological, psychological and cognitive development and functioning in children. These objectives are being addressed in longitudinal studies documenting the effects of differences in early diet (breast feeding or infant formula) on these measures in preterm and term babies from infancy through childhood, and in cross-sectional studies in school-aged children assessing: a) the effectiveness of USDA School Breakfast and Lunch programs in maximizing neurophysiological and behavioral functions essential for learning, with the goal of understanding the relationship between diet and processes optimizing attention and learning while in school; and b) determining neurocognitive correlates and consequences of being overweight in children and how these factors may relate to the development of childhood obesity. Over the next 5 years we will focus on the following objectives: Objective 1. Using a longitudinal study, evaluate the effects of infant diet (breast-milk, dairy- and soy-based formulas, and monosaccharide supplemented formula) on physiological, behavioral and cognitive development in infants and children. Sub-Objective 1.A. Determine the growth and development of infants fed one of the three major infant diets (breast-milk, milk- or soy- based formula). Sub-Objective 1.B. Determine the effects of monosaccharide-supplemented formula on the growth and development of healthy preterm and term infants. Sub-Objective 1.C. Determine if early infant diet is predictive of later cognitive development and information processing abilities. Objective 2. Determine the effects of diet composition, meal patterns and meal frequency on brain function and behavioral dynamics that are important for learning and school performance in well-characterized normal and overweight school children. Sub-Objective 2.A. Determine the effects of variations in morning nutrition (skipping or eating different meals followed by a snack) on processes important for learning in normal weight and overweight children. Sub-Objective 2.B. Determine the effects of lunch nutrition (skipping or eating different meals followed by a snack) on learning processes in normal weight and overweight children. Objective 3. Characterize neurocognitive function that contributes to or is a consequence of obesity in children, including brain-function correlates of food-seeking behavior.

Approach:
Children (infants, toddlers, and school-aged youths) will be studied longitudinally to evaluate the effects of infant diet (such as, breast-milk, dairy- and soy-based formulas, and other formulas) on physiological, behavioral and cognitive development in infants and children. Nutritional status assessments, anthropometric measurements, urine and blood analysis, and measures of psychological, neuropsychological, and cognitive measures will be obtained and analyzed. The effects of diet composition, meal patterns, and meal frequency on brain function and behavioral dynamics that are important for learning and school performance in normal and overweight school children will be assessed using validated survey instruments and state-of-the-art research equipment. Neurocognitive function will be characterized that contributes to or is a consequence of obesity in children, including brain-function correlates of food-seeking behavior.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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