Just as obese adults miss more work days, heavy kids miss more school days than their normal-weight peers. Research published in this month’s Obesity suggests that as a child’s body mass index rises, so does his or her risk of absenteeism.
The University of Pennsylvania study looked at attendance figures for 1,069 elementary school children in urban Philadelphia and found that obese kids were absent 21% more than normal-weight children. Of the 10-12-year-olds involved in the study, 23% were obese (17% were overweight) and an absence was recognized as arriving after third period. As for why heavier students attend school less frequently, researchers cite previous studies linking childhood obesity with social difficulties and behavior problems. Weight-related health issues may also play a role.
These latest findings add educational losses to the long list of challenges associated with childhood obesity — including a higher risk of diabetes, joint disorders and breathing constriction. An obese adolescent has a 70% risk of staying obese as an adult, and ultimately facing obesity’s well-documented health consequences. Protect your child from this fate by limiting television time, eating dinner as a family, andcultivating a healthy approach to the upcoming holidays. Being mindful of your children’s weight won’t make them fat — staying in denial about a growing problem will.
Published September 1, 2007