The intellectual quotient or IQ provides a measure of one’s intellectual ability or intelligence. The IQ score was first invested by Frenchman Alfred Binet in the last 1800s, as means to identify and remove less intelligent Parisian children who might be slowing the progress of their more intelligent classroom peers. So the question of intellectual ability and IQ is all relative. That is, IQ testing measures how well individuals perform on a set of tests that are believed to be related to intellectual ability, relative to the performance of others within the same age group. National IQ score for a particular age group will be set at 100 points. IQ has also been shown to follow a normal distribution, which means that 50% of the population will have an IQ of more than 100 points, while the other half of the population will have an IQ of less than 100 points. But most IQ tests have one adult scale, which means that everyone over the age of 16 will be measured against this same IQ scoring scale, despite the known fact that IQ, particularly the fluid kind which relates to one’s ability to solve novel problems, will begin to decline in our late 20s. So the point here is that the IQ of adults within a certain country will be assumed to be 100 points, and each individual within that country will be compared to what is assumed to be the average IQ of that particular country.
But what happens when you compare the average IQ of an adult in one country vs another? Do all adults in all countries have the same average IQ of 100? Cross sectional analyses suggest average IQ scores vary greatly between nations. National IQ scores vary a great deal. The average IQ of adults differs by country, sometimes slightly (e.g. comparing the average IQ in the UK and the United States), sometimes vastly (e.g. comparing the average IQ of Hong Kong adults with that of Zimbabwe). Differences between national IQ scores can be as great at 30-40, which is frighteningly large as this gap represents at least two standard deviations.
This means that there is a tremendous amount of variability between the average level of IQ scores across the globe. Assuming a consistent global IQ scale, it has been estimated that national IQ scores can be as high as 109 points (on average) in places like Hong Kong, and as low as 72 in sub-Saharan Africa. Some books such as “IQ and the Wealth of Nations” have gone on to argue that national differences in average IQs correlate strongly with standard of living (as proxied by GDP per capita), as well as economic growth rates. The book’s methodology and conclusions were criticized although its premise is clearly thought provoking.
National IQ scores may be improved by adding iodized salts to diet
A recent article in the press states that researchers in Islamabad Pakistan have warned of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) which can cause IQs of affected individuals to drop by up to 15 points, and that entire populations are at risk. In collaboration with Unicef, researchers there have been warning that iodine deficiency generally, and in particular during pregnancy, is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation worldwide. IDD occurs when people do not receive naturally sufficient quantities of iodine as part of their daily diet, which can be easily corrected by adding iodized salts to one’s diet. Iodine deficiency is a public health concern in countries like Pakistan where over 50% of the population is at risk. 72% of the population is iodine deficient and nearly 2 million are born annually with mental impairment. Unfortunately, Pakistan is not alone.
It is clearly understood from the above that it is absolutely within the power of public health authorities globally to ensure that national IQ levels are boosted by enforcing the addition of iodized salt into diets. This will not only improve average national IQs but will in turn benefit the well being of those affected, result in higher standards of living for all, make educational attainment feasible and perhaps diminish some of the conflicts that are often seen in poor parts of the world.
Boosting average IQ starts will the prevention of IDD and mental retardation through the addition of iodized salt into diets.