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Childhood Obesity Linked to Poor Math Performance

Jun 22, 2012

Childhood obesity affects math performance in school, as well as social skills and wellbeing, according to new research from the University of Missouri. Researchers looked at data from over 6,000 children enrolled in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort, which gathered information from children beginning in kindergarten and followed them through the fifth grade. Results showed that children who were obese throughout the study period had lower math scores in the first through fifth grades than children who were not obese. Not only did obesity affect math performance, but overweight children also reported feeling sadder, lonelier and more anxious than kids of more average weights. Researchers said this negative emotional state could be contributing to the poor math performances. Although it is hard to determine whether obesity actually affects cognition, “we certainly can say that obesity affects everything from self-esteem to social standing to mood and even hormonal balance, so the likelihood that there would be a whole cascade of effects between weight and math test scores is very high,” said lead investigator Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Center. Child Development June 2012