Summertime Weight Loss for Better GradesPosted: July 17, 2012 in Obesity Medicine by Craig Primack MD FACP
It is the middle of the summer and school is the last thing on the minds of most children, but if you are like a majority of parents then the countdown has already started in the back of your mind. Being proactive with your child’s schooling over the long summer months can make a big difference when it comes to their grades in the fall, but good luck getting your kid to open an algebra book instead of playing with their friends.
Instead of putting all of your effort into tricking your child into studying this summer, their school work might benefit even more by taking the time to focus on their health. Medical weight management for your child could help them have an easier time when school is back in session.
Obesity Impacting Grades
A team of researchers from the University of Missouri, Columbia, the University of Vermont and the University of California at Los Angeles studied the impact of excess weight on elementary aged children in a longitudinal study.
The researchers found that children who were obese in kindergarten and maintained that excess weight as they entered the first grade performed worse than the healthy weighted children on math tests. The lower performance rating did not stop after the first grade either, but continued through the fifth grade.
Children who gained weight and became obese during the third, fourth or fifth grade saw an impact in their testing scores as well. Girls who gained weight during this time period performed worse on math tests than did the healthy weight children, though this category of students were able to bring their grades back up to par with the control group.
Researchers speculate that there is a direct relationship between a student’s ability to thrive in the classroom, particularly in regards to math, and with a child’s level of social interaction. Obese children are often shunned by other students in elementary school and do not develop the same social skills as other children their age.
The Smart Choice
Another study completed in the Netherlands found that the GPA of secondary level students, or students in middle and high school grades, was higher among the children who engaged in the most physical activity. Researchers in this study depended on prior evidence that exercise improves memory, attention levels and cognitive functioning. Since exercise enhances circulation and blood flow to the brain, children who are more active are also more alert, and may even experience an increased ability to learn.
This study found that when children engaged in physical activity at school, either through extracurricular activities like sports, gym classes or through recess, the students experienced a boost in their self-esteem level, verbal skills and GPA. Since so many schools have eliminated these resources, a lot of children need to engage in these activities on their own time in order to remain active.
While these studies evaluated different age groups and different aspects of the health and school performance connection, their results complement one another. Helping your child to become healthier through eating a proper diet and exercising regularly can boost their social skills, self-esteem and ultimately their grades.
Instead of pulling out the flash cards this summer, take your kids to the park and run around for a few hours every day. The boost in exercise might make all the difference when it comes time to go back to school!