Obesity, Healthy and Academic Achievement: What Relationship?
The rate of childhood obesity is increasing annually all over the world. This global epidemic has several implications for health, cognitive abilities, emotions and educational achievement. Many researches have examined the relationship between poor nutrition, weight and performance in the classroom.
First, food that is high in fat and calories can be a direct cause of obesity or overweight, especially when the child is not physically active. So, the risk increases when the physical activity decreases. Obesity can develop more serious health problems, such as high cholesterol, heart diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure. Besides, obesity has also psychological effects. The immediate consequence of obesity is low self-esteem, since obese or overweight children usually have a low body-image because of their body size. Therefore, children who have a low self-esteem find it difficult to make positive changes in their life. On the other hand, parents ‘attitudes have an important role on how children feel about their bodies. For instance, lifestyle choice is very crucial to improve children’s overall health; this involves children going on healthy diets and exercising regularly. When children engage in physical activities, they burn more and their bodies function properly. Parents should help their children learn these healthy habits and develop a positive body-image.
Moreover, obesity may not stop at the physical and psychological effects. It may also affect children’s academic performance. Obese or overweight children usually exhibit feelings of stress, anxiety and depression which can hinder their academic success. For instance, girls who were overweight or obese not only were significantly more likely to score lower on math and reading tests, but they also had struggled to interpret and thus communicate their feelings appropriately as well as connect with their peers (Datar & Sturn, 2006). Obesity can be, then, harmful to children’s academic and social well-being.
Improving nutrition and increasing physical activity can, both, help children to lose weight and improve children’s cognitive functions, memory and concentration.