A new study published in the journal Child Development suggests that math performance may be affected by obesity. Apparently, kids who are overweight are likely to have lower scores on a math test than those who are of normal weight.

The study involved 6,250 young students from kindergarten to fifth grade. After taking their measurements and getting their body mass index, the researchers categorized the children into three groups: never overweight (80 percent of the children), persistently overweight (12 percent), or later-onset overweight (8 percent). They were all asked to answer a math test afterward. Parents and teachers were also asked to answer a detailed questionnaire regarding the children’s interpersonal skills and internalizing behaviors.

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From the results, it appeared that children who were persistently overweight scored the worst on the exam. These are the kids who started out overweight and experienced more weight gain by the time they got to the fifth grade.

"These children are not necessarily less smart, but they're performing less well," said the study's lead author, Sara Gable, an associate professor and state extension specialist in nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri. Reasons for poor performance vary, but Gable believes that their lack of interpersonal skills and frequency of internalization may have something to do with it.

While there is no evidence of a direct cause and effect relationship just yet, researchers urge parents to watch their children’s weight. It’s not about being thin or looking great physically, but helping your kids grow up to become healthy, happy individuals.

(Photo by Sanja Gjenero via sxc.hu)

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