The effects of childhood obesity on education

Written by lauren nelson
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The effects of childhood obesity on education
Childhood obesity can limit the impact of education. (education image by Anatoly Tiplyashin from

First lady Michelle Obama declared war on childhood obesity, and with good reason. Childhood obesity can have a profound impact on a child's life. In particular, childhood obesity has a very negative impact on a child's education.


Childhood obesity can hurt a child's school attendance. With childhood obesity comes a host of health complications, including diabetes, a low immune system and a slower recovery rate from injuries. As such, children who suffer from childhood obesity are statistically more likely to miss school than children who are not. This negatively affects their education, as presence in the classroom has been positively related to information retention and good grades.

Test Scores

Another area affected by childhood obesity is test scores. A study conducted by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Department of Education in 2009 analysed the academic and fitness records of students attending kindergarten through eighth grade in New York City. The results showed that students who scored higher on fitness tests and were regarded as healthier also scored higher on standardised English language arts and math tests.


According to the National School Board Association, childhood obesity can hurt a child's ability to focus in the classroom. Childhood obesity has been linked to an array of sleeping disorders. When a child does not get enough high quality sleep, his ability to focus in the classroom is diminished. A lack of focus diminishes a child's ability to pay attention to the material and retain it, leading to lower performance.

Social Skills

A large part of a child's educational experience is learning to socialise. Childhood obesity can make socialising a painful process. Overweight children become the target of ridicule and ostracising. This has a negative impact on their self-esteem and self-image, ultimately stagnating their social skills for years to come. Discomfort and feelings of isolation further compound a child's focus.

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