Obese Kids Do Worse in Math
Overweight kids do worse in math than their peers, according to a new study.
“These children are not necessarily less smart, but they’re performing less well,” explained one of the study’s authors, Sara Gable.
While there is no direct causal relationship between a student’s weight and their school performance, the study showed that kindergarteners who were overweight until 5th grade tend to perform worse on math tests.
There is no tangible proof of the actual cause of the low test scores; however, Gable speculates that it’s caused by specific behavior and factors caused by obesity.
“We know, in general, that children who have poor peer relationships don’t do as well at school,” she said. “And we also know that children with internalizing behaviors don’t do as well.”
The study utilized data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal study which analyzed a sample size of over 6,000 kids. Grouped by their BMI range, the study had two interesting conclusions: Kids who were overweight from kindergarten to fifth grade performed worse on math tests starting the first grade. However, weight did not play a role on their school performance prior to first grade.
“That means there’s some aspect in the school setting that’s affecting performance,” Gable concludes.
In addition to social stigma, obesity can also cause a variety of health-related issues which may affect a child’s overall performance and behavior in school.
“Parents need to protect children from obesity as long as they possibly can. Establish a healthy lifestyle that prevents this from happening. Once someone is obese, it’s really hard to change,” Gables adds. “The whole family’s routines have to change. Not just one person’s plate or one person’s activity level.”
With obesity becoming a fast-rising issue in the United States, parental and social support is critical. That said, the topic of putting kids on a controlled diet and exercise still remains a touchy subject. Remember the controversial book, Maggie Goes on a Diet, or the equally talked-about Vogue article last April? Overall, obesity is a topic that we need to face, but it’s also a sensitive issue that needs to be handled properly. Hopefully, with the right support at home and in school, we could slowly improve on this rising epidemic.