If your child scores lower on tests or if it has poor performance in school, especially on maths, it would be wise to check on its weight. This is an advice American scientists give after conducting a research that made it clear that an overweight child, has probably poor performance in school and mostly in math. Childhood obesity, nowadays, tends to take the form of an epidemic throughout the world. Except for all the other problems of physical and mental health of which it is responsible, now it associated, in the broadest sense, with learning problems. As if that weren’t enough, obesity may also harm young people’s long-term college and career prospects.

Researchers of the University of Missouri, studied the behavior of 6,250 children from kindergarten until almost the end of elementary school, in collaboration with teachers and parents, who constantly provided information for their kids. Children were regularly checked on their weight and on several performance tests. They found that children who were already overweight from kindergarten and through elementary, were doing worse in math even from the beginning of elementary, compared with kids who were never overweight. Poor performance of overweight children in mathematics continued throughout junior high school and it wasn’t periodic. However, boys who later on became overweight during elementary, didn’t experienced similar problems in maths. Girls who gained more weight during elementary, had only an occasional problem in mathematics.

Scientists have decoded this phenomenon and came to the conclusion that physical appearance has a great effect on the interpersonal relationships of children and consequently on their psychology. Overweight children, both boys and girls, generally feel more sad, more secluded and more stressed, which has a negative impact on their school performance in general and especially in mathematics. “Our study shows that childhood obesity, mainly if it is a constant problem through elementary school, may harm a child’s social behavior and its emotional well-being, as well as its school performance”, said the head of the research, Professor Sara Gable.

obesity affects school performance

Of course, as stated, the research does not prove that there is a direct cause and effect relationship between excess weight and performance in courses (especially in math), but these two are definitely related. “Overweight children are not necessarily less intelligent, but simply weaker in school performance. It is a fact that children who do not have good relationships with their peers, are also not doing as well in school”, said an American researcher, who found out that the longer obesity persists, the more social and psychological problems may build up in a child’s psychology.

As a conclusion, parents must protect their children as much as they can from obesity and they should also impose a more healthy lifestyle. From the moment a child becomes overweight, it is really hard to change. A healthy and active attitude towards life, should be adopted from the entire family in order to be effective and to inspire a child. On the other hand,  it is important to explain to a child that weight is not what identifies a person.

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