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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Dec;15(12):3170-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.377.

The extended relationship between child cardiovascular risks and academic performance measures.

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Department of Pediatrics, West Virginia University, PO Box 9214, RCBHSC, Morgantown, WV 26506-9214, USA.



To examine the relationship between children's overweight status and other cardiovascular risk fitness factors and academic performance among fifth-grade students.


Using a sample of 968 fifth-grade students (50.7% boys; mean age = 10.6 years), children's cardiovascular risks (BMI, blood pressure, acanthosis nigricans) and fitness measures were compared with their mean group performance scores across four subscales (mathematics, reading/language arts, science, and social studies) of a statewide standardized academic performance test.


Of this sample, 39% were either at risk for being overweight or were already overweight; slightly over one half were of normal weight. Initial findings revealed a significant relationship between children's weight category and their reading/language arts, mathematics, and science test scores even after controlling for a proxy of socioeconomic status. When additional cardiovascular risk and fitness measures were included in the model, however, children's BMI status had no association. Instead, a composite fitness index, children's blood pressure, sex, and proxy of socioeconomic status were significantly associated with children's academic test scores.


This study expanded our understanding of the connection between children's overweight risks and academic performance by examining the impact of other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and measures of fitness. These findings support the development and implementation of childhood cardiovascular risk surveillance programs that evaluate not only children's overweight risks but also their fitness, risk for type 2 diabetes, and/or high blood pressure by showing a relationship between some of these risks and children's academic test performance.

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