Studies: Childhood obesity tied to poor incomes, math scores

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Two new studies are disassociating childhood obesity from consumption of sugar-loaded beverages and associating childhood obesity with poor math performance.

The first study, published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, a Canadian research journal suggests most children and youth who consume soft drinks and other sweetened beverages, such as fruit punch and lemonade, are not at any higher risk for obesity than their peers who drink healthy beverages. Rather, it suggests childhood obesity is more highly correlated to household income, ethnicity, and household food security.

The study examined the relationship between beverage intake patterns of Canadian children and their risk for obesity and found sweetened beverage intake to be a risk factor only in boys aged 6–11.
“We found sweetened drinks to be dominant beverages during childhood, but saw no consistent association between beverage intake patterns and overweight and obesity,” says lead author Susan J. Whiting. “Food and beverage habits are formed early in life and are often maintained into adulthood. Overconsumption of sweetened beverages may put some children at increased risk for overweight and obesity. Indeed, boys aged 6–11 years who consumed mostly soft drinks were shown to be at increased risk for overweight and obesity as compared with those who drank a more moderate beverage pattern.”

The authors determined beverage consumption patterns among Canadian children aged 2–18 years using cluster analysis where sociodemographics, ethnicity, household income, and food security were significantly different across the clusters. Data were divided into different age and gender groups and beverage preferences were studied.

By coincidence, an unrelated study conducted by a University of Missouri researcher and published in the journal Child Development has found that children’s weight is associated with their math performance.

Sara Gable, associate professor in the University of Missouri Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, looked at more than 6,250 children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort, a nationally representative sample, and tracked their progress from kindergarten to fifth grade, occasionally obtaining additional information about the students from the children’s families and teachers.

“Our study suggests that childhood obesity, especially obesity that persists throughout the elementary grades, can harm children’s social and emotional well-being and academic performance,” Gable said.
When compared with children who were never obese, boys and girls whose obesity persisted from the start of kindergarten through fifth grade performed worse on the math tests, starting in first grade. Their lower performance continued through fifth grade. For boys whose obesity emerged later—in third or fifth grade—no such differences were found. For girls who became obese later, poorer math performance was temporary.  In addition, for girls who were persistently obese, having fewer social skills explained some part of their poorer math performance. For both boys and girls who were persistently obese, feeling sadder, lonelier and more anxious also explained some of their poorer math performance.

Source : http://familynews.com/study-childhood-obesity-tied-to-poor-incomes-math-scores/

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