Poor school performance linked with obesity

A new study published online in Pediatrics journal has suggested that complications of being overweight can impact upon the school performance of children.

Poor school performance linked with obesity

by Louise-Anne Geddes, Mindful Mum, 3rd September 2011

The study, led by Dr Antonio Convit from New York University found that the physical effects of being obese such as high blood pressure, poor cholesterol and blood sugar control were linked with poorer performance on thinking tests.


The researchers examined 49 children with metabolic syndrome (MetS) and 62 children without, to test their theory that ‘prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) parallels the rise in childhood obesity’.  According to their hypothesis, ‘MetS is associated with neuro-cognitive impairments in adults, but this is thought to be a long-term effect of poor metabolism’.  The participants, who were matched on age, socioeconomic status, school grade, gender, and ethnicity all received endocrine, MRI, and neuropsychological evaluations.


It was found that children with MetS displayed significantly lower arithmetic, spelling, attention, and mental flexibility and a trend for lower overall intelligence.


In their final comments, the researchers concluded that:

“We document lower cognitive performance and reductions in brain structural integrity among adolescents with MetS, thus suggesting that even relatively short-term impairments in metabolism, in the absence of clinically manifest vascular disease, may give rise to brain complications. In view of these alarming results, it is plausible that obesity-associated metabolic disease, short of type 2 diabetes mellitus, may be mechanistically linked to lower the academic and professional potential of adolescents. Although obesity may not be enough to stir clinicians or even parents into action, these results in adolescents strongly argue for an early and comprehensive intervention. We propose that brain function be introduced among the parameters that need to be evaluated when considering early treatment of childhood obesity”.

Source:  Pediatrics Journal, Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome and Functional and Structural Brain Impairments in Adolescence, 3rd September 2012

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