Obesity in adolescent girls is associated with lower academic attainment levels throughout their teenage years, a new study has shown.
The research conducted by the Universities of Strathclyde, Dundee, Georgia and Bristol is the most comprehensive study yet carried out into the association between obesity and academic attainment in adolescence. The results are published in the International Journal of Obesity.
The study examined data from almost 6000 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), including academic attainment assessed by national tests at 11, 13 and 16 years and weight status.
The results showed that girls who were obese, as measured by BMI at age 11 had lower academic attainment at 11, 13 and 16 years compared to those of a healthy weight. The study took into account possible mediating factors but found that these did not affect the overall results.
Associations between obesity and academic attainment were less clear in boys.
University of Strathclyde Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health Science, John Reilly – the Principal Investigator of the study – said: “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.”