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Obesity Alone May Not Hurt Kids' Classroom Performance

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Being obese does not affect children's school performance, according to a new British study.

Researchers at the University of York analyzed data from nearly 4,000 participants in the Children of the '90s Birth Cohort Study.

"We sought to test whether obesity directly hinders performance due to bullying or health problems, or whether kids who are obese do less well because of other factors that are associated with both obesity and lower exam results, such as coming from a disadvantaged family," study author Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder said in news release from the United Kingdom's Economic and Social Research Council, which funded the study.

"Based on a simple correlation between children's obesity, as measured by their fat mass, and their exam results, we found that heavier children did do slightly worse in school," Scholder said.

"But when we used children's genetic markers to account for other factors, we found no evidence that obesity causally affects exam results," she said. "So we conclude that obesity is not a major factor affecting children's educational outcomes."

Previous studies have found a link between obesity and poorer grades. These new findings suggest that this may be due to issues that affect both weight and academic performance, including socioeconomic factors such as whether a child's family is poor, Scholder said.

"Clearly there are reasons why there are differences in educational outcomes, but our research shows that obesity is not one of them," she concluded.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about overweight and obese children.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.K. Economic and Social Research Council, news release, July 12, 2012

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