Researchers have discovered that obese girls lagged behind their classmates in English, science and maths at GCSE level. They were also found to be one grade behind their school friends in SATS tests.
To obtain the results, researchers reviewed the academic achievements of approximately 6000 children, along with their body mass index. The results indicated that girls who were classified as being obese fell behind their classmates academically. This applies for the entire period during their teenage years.
No link between educational achievement and obese boys was found. The reason for this is unclear.
Previous studies have indicated that obesity may lead to depression which normally boosts absenteeism. Obese children are often stigmatised by their teachers and peers. A link has been noted between high body fat and low cognition and IQ.
Professor John Reilly, an investigator from Strathclyde University has stated that the combination of all these factors may well be the reason for the disparity between boys and girls. There is a distinct difference between girls and boys, and girls are known to be more sensitive to mental health issues which could be a huge factor in this instance. Boys are usually more physically active than girls during the adolescent years and this may be a protecting factor.
In the UK, three out of every ten children between the ages of two and 15 are obese or overweight. This figure is expected to increase to 25% of children by the year 2050.
Researchers have found the being obese or overweight at the age of 16 was not as bad for academic achievement if the participant had had a healthy weight level at the age of 11. This suggests that long term obesity or overweight could be the cause.
Image credit: William Warby