Perception of Overweight Is Associated With Poor Academic Performance in US Adolescents

Division of Emergency Medicine, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Journal of School Health (Impact Factor: 1.43). 11/2011; 81(11):663-70. DOI: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2011.00642.x
Source: PubMed


To improve understanding of the mechanisms affecting the relationship between adolescent obesity and poor academic performance, we examined the association of overweight or perceived weight status with academic achievement.
We performed a cross-sectional study of 14-17-year-olds (N = 11,012) from the nationally representative 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The main outcome measure was self-reported grades (mostly A, B, C, D, or F). The primary independent variables were medically defined overweight (body mass index [BMI] ≥ 85th percentile), obesity (BMI ≥ 95th percentile), and participants' perception of their weight status.
Medically defined overweight youth were less likely to report higher grades in unadjusted analysis (OR 0.67, 95% CI: 0.60-0.76, p < .001) and after adjustment for demographics, depression, television and video game use, and physical activity (OR 0.83, 95% CI: 0.74-0.94, p = .003). Statistically significant results also were seen with medically defined obese participants. Youth who perceived themselves as overweight were less likely to report higher grades (OR 0.82, 95% CI: 0.73-0.92, p = .001) in unadjusted analysis and after adjustment for the same variables (OR 0.79, 95% CI: 0.68-0.91, p = .002). The perception of overweight was a more significant determinant of academic performance (OR 0.81, 95% CI: 0.69-0.95, p = .012) compared to medically defined obesity (OR 0.90, 95% CI: 0.77-1.05, p = .174).
Perceived overweight status is negatively associated with academic performance, regardless of actual weight status. These findings suggest that perception of overweight may be a mechanism for prior results indicating a negative association of obesity and academic achievements, and have implications for the academic health of these adolescents.

Download full-text


Available from: Todd A Florin, Jan 25, 2016
  • Source
    • "It might also be that students who lacked discipline to maintain weight were equally not disciplined to perform well academically. Furthermore, it has been shown that medically defined overweight status is negatively associated with academic achievement [30,31]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study aimed to examine differences in socio-demographics and health behaviour between Belgian first year university students who attended all final course exams and those who did not. Secondly, this study aimed to identify weight and health behaviour related correlates of academic performance in those students who attended all course exams. Anthropometrics of 101 first year university students were measured at both the beginning of the first (T1) and second (T2) semester of the academic year. An on-line health behaviour questionnaire was filled out at T2. As a measure of academic performance student end-of-year Grade Point Averages (GPA) were obtained from the university's registration office. Independent samples t-tests and chi2-tests were executed to compare students who attended all course exams during the first year of university and students who did not carry through. Uni- and multivariate linear regression analyses were conducted to identify correlates of academic performance in students who attended all course exams during the first year of university. Students who did not attend all course exams were predominantly male, showed higher increases in waist circumference during the first semester and consumed more French fries than those who attended all final course exams. Being male, lower secondary school grades, increases in weight, Body Mass Index and waist circumference over the first semester, more gaming on weekdays, being on a diet, eating at the student restaurant more frequently, higher soda and French fries consumption, and higher frequency of alcohol use predicted lower GPA's in first year university students. When controlled for each other, being on a diet and higher frequency of alcohol use remained significant in the multivariate regression model, with frequency of alcohol use being the strongest correlate of GPA. This study, conducted in Belgian first year university students, showed that academic performance is associated with a wide range of weight and health related behaviours. Future studies should investigate whether interventions aiming at promoting healthy behaviours among students could also have a positive impact on academic performance.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Nutrition Journal
  • Source
    • "Overweight during childhood and adolescence is a growing problem throughout the world (Low et al., 2009; Raj & Kumar, 2010; Waters et al., 2011) and a possible cause of later health problems such as heart and circulatory illnesses and various metabolic complications (Gardner et al., 2008; Friedemann et al., 2012; Lloyd et al., 2012). Being overweight often results in a lower quality of life and lower self-esteem (Griffiths et al., 2010; Russell-Mayhew et al., 2012), and has also been found to be associated with poor performance at school (Florin et al., 2011). According to several studies, overweight children and adolescents, and overweight adults sleep less (Cappuccio et al., 2008; Bell & Zimmerman, 2010; Danielsen et al., 2010; Garaulet et al., 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents (6-16 years), and relationships between being overweight and sleep, experiencing of fatigue, enjoyment of school, and time spent in watching television and in sitting at the computer. Trained school nurses measured the weight and height of 2891 children aged 6, 7, 10, 14, and 16, and distributed a questionnaire to them regarding television and computer habits, sleep, and enjoyment of school. Overweight, obesity included, was present in 16.1% of the study population. Relationships between lifestyle factors and overweight were studied using multivariate logistic regression analysis. Having a bedroom television and spending more than 2 h a day watching television were found to be associated with overweight (OR 1.26 and 1.55 respectively). No association was found between overweight and time spent at the computer, short sleep duration, enjoyment of school, tiredness at school, or difficulties in sleeping and waking up. It is recommended that the school health service discuss with pupils their media habits so as to promote their maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objective Approximately one-third of children in the USA are either overweight or obese. Understanding the perceptions of children is an important factor in reversing this trend.DesignAn online survey was conducted with children to capture their perceptions of weight, overweight, nutrition, physical activity and related socio-behavioural factors.SettingWithin the USA.SubjectsUS children (n 1224) aged 8-18 years.ResultsTwenty-seven per cent of children reported being overweight; 471 % of children overestimated the rate of overweight/obesity among US children. A higher percentage of self-classified overweight children (819 %) worried about weight than did self-classified under/normal weight children (311 %). Most children (911 %) felt that it was important to not be overweight, for both health-related and social-related reasons. The majority of children believed that if someone their age is overweight they will likely be overweight in adulthood (931 %); get an illness such as diabetes or heart disease in adulthood (902 %); not be able to play sports well (845 %); and be teased or made fun of in school (878 %). Children focused more on food/drink than physical activity as reasons for overweight at their age. Self-classified overweight children were more likely to have spoken with someone about their weight over the last year than self-classified under/normal weight children.Conclusions Children demonstrated good understanding of issues regarding weight, overweight, nutrition, physical activity and related socio-behavioural factors. Their perceptions are important and can be helpful in crafting solutions that will resonate with children.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2012 · Public Health Nutrition
Show more