Health & Family

Weight issues can affect school performance

Overweight kids are at risk for a host of health complications, including elevated cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. They also might do more poorly in school.

When grade-point averages were compared among 566 middle school students in a Philadelphia suburb, overweight students came in at about half a grade point lower than normal-weight kids.

The study, published in the July issue of the journal Obesity, also found that overweight students had lower reading comprehension scores on a nationally standardized test, ranking in the 66th percentile; normal-weight kids ranked in the 75th percentile. Heavier kids were also five times more likely to have six or more detentions than their normal-weight peers, had more school absences and lower physical fitness test scores, and were less inclined to participate on athletic teams — 37 percent compared with 75 percent of normal-weight students.

Stuart Shore, a doctoral candidate in kinesiology at Temple University in Philadelphia and lead author of the study, speculates that overweight kids who have low self-esteem might be less inclined to attend school and might not relate well with their teachers.