HealthDay News — For girls, obesity at age 11 years has a negative effect on academic attainment, according to a study published online in the International Journal of Obesity.

Josephine N. Booth, PhD, from the University of Dundee in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined associations between weight status at age 11 years and academic attainment on national tests at age 11, 13 and 16 years. Data were obtained for 5,966 participants with objectively measured weight status from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

The researchers found that academic attainment was lower at age 11, 13 and 16 years for girls who were obese (BMI z score ≥1.64) at age 11 years, compared with those of a healthy weight (BMI z score <1.04). The correlation persisted even after controlling for a wide range of confounders.

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For boys, the associations between obesity and academic attainment were less clear. No strong evidence was found for the potential mediating effects of depressive symptoms, IQ and age of menarche.

“Parents, education and public health policy makers should consider the wide reaching detrimental impact of obesity on educational outcomes in this age group,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Booth J et al. Nature. 2014; doi: 10.1038/ijo.2014.40.