15 December 2006

Vegetarians have higher IQs?

The not-wife was delighted this morning to read a BBC report that researchers from Southampton University have found that people who were vegetarian by 30 had recorded five IQ points more on average at the age of 10.

The study involved over 8,000 people whose IQs were tested at the age of 10. Of these 366 said they were vegetarian, although more than 100 reported eating either fish or chicken.

Both men and women who stated they were vegetarian had an IQ score five points higher than non-vegetarians. Interestingly there was no difference in IQ score between strict vegetarians and those who said they were vegetarian but who reported eating fish or chicken.

Lead researcher Catharine Gale said: "The finding that children with greater intelligence are more likely to report being vegetarian as adults, together with the evidence on the potential benefits of a vegetarian diet on heart health, may help to explain why higher IQ in childhood or adolescence is linked with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in adult life." However, she added the link may be merely an example of many other lifestyle preferences that might be expected to vary with intelligence, such as choice of newspaper, but which may or may not have implications for health.

Dr Frankie Phillips, of the British Dietetic Association, said: "It is like the chicken and the egg. Do people become vegetarian because they have a very high IQ or is it just that they tend to be more aware of health issues?"

The story was of interest to the not-wife because, unlike me, she was vegetarian well before the age of 30. .. Another rod to beat me (sighs).


Pete said...

Good post Jams.

Anecdotally I've found a correlation between all of the following: attendance at university, being too poor to buy meat, temporary pacifism and the desire not to inflict pain on animals.

I think the well educated graduates of these mixed conditions do better than most on IQ tests.


jams o donnell said...

There may be something in all of this Pete!, Whatever the actual truth of this the not wife had the chance of a few light hearted jibes at my expense!

Agnes said...

Jams, are you a vegetarian? On the other hand, the not wife is, on the other hand the not wife is with you> does that make her intelligent or not? Questions, questions.

jams o donnell said...

Hmm but on the other hand I am neutered and housebroken and I do make the bed warm so I serve some purpose I suppose!

Steve Bates said...

Questions of methodology aside, to believe that the study means anything, you have to believe that IQ means anything. I don't. I recommend the late Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man for a fairly thorough examination of the question.

Like Pete, I tend to think that a high IQ score tends to be associated with a whole lot of factors, many of which are social or political rather than biological, and none of which is really identifiable with that characteristic we think of when we hear the word "intelligence."

I've been a vegetarian (ovo-lacto) since the early 1980's, and I changed over for the usual reasons, but not because I even remotely disapprove of people's eating meat... humans are natural omnivores, and eschewing meat (as opposed to chewing meat) is a personal choice. But I don't think the change had anything to do with my having been smart as hell as a child. <grin_duck_run />

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of the old adage:

"If you don't smoke, drink or eat meat, you won't actually live longer - it will just seem like it."

jams o donnell said...

As for IQ Pete I did join Mensa out od sheer vanity. From my short tenure ass a member os said organisation I got proof positive that there is an inverse correalation between social skills and high IQ scores.

The biggest fool was me for joining in the first place!

Ah Roger, vegetarianism brings boundless health and ling life.. on the other hand I'm an asthmatic with keratocnus a dodgy shoulder and currently nursing a cracked rib.. so much for the theory!

Elizabeth-W said...

I completely agree with Steve's point about the myriad biopsychosocial factors related to IQ.
I have no idea what my IQ is but I'm guessing I've got three digits (I hope) in my score.
From ages 18-31 I varied between vegan and ovo-lacto veg. I don't feel less smart now :)

jams o donnell said...

At the end of the day I am pretty sceptical about IQ scores too elizabeth. I don't think they are worth that much. At least I got a post out of it!

mullet said...

maybe they have higher iq's because families that tend to blow with this are mostly middle class

mullet said...

my iq is pretty ok elizabeth...10 points below jams lol

but i will turn cartwheels and shit mars bars if vegetarianism has anything to do with iq!

jams o donnell said...

I think other factors are in play. What was measured was perhaps a by product although the not-wife and me are both from solid working class backgrounds (her dad worked at the Ford plant at Dagenham as did mine)

jams o donnell said...

shit Mars Bars? you could make a good living doing that on the cabaret circuit!