New research has articulated a link between obesity and poorer academic results.
The study – a collaborative effort between Dundee, Strathclyde and Bristol universities, and Georgia University in the US – analysed the Body Mass Index (BMI) of 6,000 students between the ages of 11 and 16. Of the students 71 per cent were obese, 13 per cent were overweight and 15 per cent were at a healthy weight.
Obese students were shown to perform more poorly than their peers of average weight – a D symbol was a more likely result than a c symbol (the average) for obese students, girls in particular.
Factors including socio-economic deprivation, mental health, IQ and age of menstruation were considered as part of the study but were shown to have no significant effect on the link between obesity and poorer achievement.
Interestingly, the aforementioned research revealed that it was long term obesity that more significantly affected academic results than if, for example, a student was a healthy weight at age 12 but obese at age 16.
One can only assume that although students participating in the study were teens, the principle applies to students of all ages, including those at university. If a girl has been obese since her early teens, if the study is correct, her university results will severely affected by her weight.
And it makes sense. Genes are often a contributing factor when it comes to obesity but emotional factors including stress, anger, boredom, depression can also trigger overeating, making obesity a symptom of a mental upset. Those same factors may also have a direct correlation to weaker academic results. Obesity can also evoke poor self-image, lack of confidence and poor self-esteem – all of which can affect school or university achievement.
The antidote to obesity, and it’s not easy by any means, is to, firstly, talk about the issue and then start eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. As the things that fuel the obesity are dealt with, logically, academic results will improve.
For obesity information and support, visit Bigmatters.co.uk.