Obesity Linked With Poor Academic Performance In Girls

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, teenage girls struggling with obesity could also be struggling with their academics.

Researchers from the Universities of Strathclyde, Dundee, Georgia and Bristol found that obesity in adolescent girls is linked to a lower academic attainment level throughout high school.

The team examined data from nearly 6,000 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). They studied academic attainment assessed by national tests at 11, 13 and 16 years and weight status. According to the researchers, 71 percent of those in the study were a healthy weight, 13 percent were overweight and 15 percent were obese, based on body mass index.

Researchers took into account factors like socio-economic deprivation, mental health, IQ and age of menarche for the study. However, they found that these factors did not change the relationship discovered between obesity and poor grades.

The study found that girls who were obese at age 11 had lower academic attainment at 11, 13 and 16 years when compared to those of a healthy weight. Tests included the core subjects of English, Math and Science.

According to the findings, tests taken by obese girls on core subjects were lower by an amount equivalent to a D instead of a C, which was the average grade in the sample. The researchers said the associations between obesity and academic attainment were less clear in boys than for girls.

“Further work is needed to understand why obesity is negatively related to academic attainment, but it is clear that teenagers, parents, and policymakers in education and public health should be aware of the lifelong educational and economic impact of obesity,” John Reilly, University of Strathclyde Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health Science, said in a statement.

Dr Josie Booth, of the School of Psychology at the University of Dundee, pointed out that this study unveils a link between obesity and academic performance.

“There is a clear pattern which shows that girls who are in the obese range are performing more poorly than their counterparts in the healthy weight range throughout their teenage years,” Booth said in a statement.