Obese Children May Miss More School
Study Links Childhood Obesity to Worse School Attendance
Aug. 10, 2007 -- As the new school year approaches, new research suggests
that childhood obesity may hamper school attendance.
"As the rate of childhood obesity increases, parallel increases in
school absenteeism should be expected," warn Temple University's Andrew
Geier, PhD, and colleagues in the journal Obesity.
Geier's team studied fourth- to
sixth-grade students at nine inner-city Philadelphia elementary
The students -- who were about 11 years old, on average -- got their height
and weight measured at school. The researchers calculated the kids' BMI (body
mass index), which relates height to weight.
Based on BMI, 2% of the children were underweight, 58% were normal weight,
17% were overweight, and 23% were what the researchers consider obese, meaning
those children's BMI was greater than or equal to the BMI of 95% of kids their
The kids' school attendance records show that the obese children missed 12
days of school during the school year, compared with 10 days for kids with
The students' age, sex, and race didn't explain the findings.
The researchers don't know why the children missed school. The data doesn't
show the reasons why any of the students -- obese or not -- missed school.
Perhaps obese kids missed more school due to illnesses. Or maybe they
skipped school because they had been bullied by other kids, Geier's team
The findings may highlight a hitch in school-based efforts to curb
children's weight problems.
"Those who would benefit the most from the interventions may be least
present to receive them," write Geier and colleagues.