AIM: Fish intake is reported to positively influence cognitive performance in infants and the elderly. In a longitudinal cohort study, we evaluated how fish consumption related to later cognitive performance in healthy young male adolescents.

METHODS: In 2000, all 15-year-olds (n = 18 158; 9260 males) in the western region of Sweden were requested to complete an extensive questionnaire with items on diseases, fish consumption and socioeconomic status. Questionnaire data from the male responders (n = 4792, response rate 52%) were linked with records on subsequent intelligence test performance at age 18 from the Swedish Military Conscription Register (n = 3972). Multivariate linear models were used to estimate associations between fish intake and cognitive performance, adjusting for potential confounders.

RESULTS: There was a positive association between the number of times having fish meals per week at age 15 and cognitive performance measured 3 years later. Fish consumption of more than once per week compared to less than once per week was associated with higher stanine scores in combined intelligence (0.58 units; 95% confidence interval 0.39, 0.76), in verbal performance (0.45; 0.27, 0.63) and in visuospatial performance (0.50; 0.31, 0.69). The association between fish consumption and the 3 intelligence scores was the same in lowly and highly educated groups. This indicates that education did not influence the association between the frequency of fish meals consumed and cognitive performance.

CONCLUSION: Frequent fish intake at age 15 was associated with significantly higher cognitive performance 3 years later.