Submitted to: Recommended Dietary Allowances Workshop
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/10/1995
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Zinc (Zn) deficiency has been related to impaired brain development and function in animals, and to impaired cognition in adults. A large scale, long-term study was designed to determine the effects of dietary Zn and vitamin-mineral supplementation on growth and cognition of Chinese children. This report presents preliminary findings from the first half of the study. Subjects were 6-7 year-old children, 120 (half girls) each from Qingdao, Chongqing and Shanghai. Intact classrooms of children were given either a Zn (Zn; 20 mg/d), vitamin-mineral (VM; 50% RDA excluding Zn), or Zn and vitamin-mineral (ZnVM) supplement in a double-blind fashion for 12 weeks. In addition to anthropomorphic and biochemical measures of status, cognitive and psychomotor function was assessed at baseline and 4- week intervals by using computer-administrated tasks designed to emphasize attention, perception, memory, and concept formation, and motor skills. Across cities, identifying "odd" shapes (concept-formation) and matching identical shapes (perception) improved with Zn and ZnVM, respectively. ZnVM also improved time on target during visual tracking (eye-hand coordination) and memory for colored cube shapes (object recognition). Finger tapping (motor dexterity), continuous performance (attention), search (attention and perception) and serial object recognition (memory) did not show consistent supplementation effects across all cities. Additional analyses will assess the role of nutritional status. Findings have important practical implications for the estimated 30% of Chinese children who are Zn deficient, and they underscore the need to examine a broad range of cognitive processes when assessing the impact of nutritional intervention or suboptimal nutrition on cognitive function.