Diet and Idiocy

Frank Parker's author site

Portrait by Eugène Trutat of a man affected with cretinism. Image from wikipedia

The final chapter in the context setting part of A Purgatory of Misery identifies a possible cause for the observed lassitude of many Irish peasants in the nineteenth century. Once again, this chapter appeared earlier as a post a few months ago. The role of diet in mental development is a relatively new area of study that offers clues as to the impact of repeated famines or near famines on the intelligence of those who experience them.

In post-war Britain expectant mothers and infants were provided with formula milk, cod liver oil and orange juice in order to minimise the impact of food shortages on them. Today’s infant’s, throughout most of the developed world, are, instead, plied with sugary drinks of doubtful nutritional value which could be as damaging to their mental development as if they were…

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