Childhood obesity indicates greater risk of school absenteeism

Aug 10, 2007

In the first study of how weight may affect school attendance, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University have found that overweight children are at greater risk of school absenteeism than their normal-weight peers.

The study of more than a thousand 4th, 5th and 6th graders in the Philadelphia school system also determined that body mass index, or BMI, is as significant a factor in determining absenteeism from school as age, race, socioeconomic status and gender, formerly the four main predictors.

The study found that overweight children were absent on average 20 percent more than their normal-weight peers.

“At this young age, children are not necessarily experiencing the health problems that will likely confront them later in life unless serious intervention takes place,” said Andrew B. Geier, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Penn. “However, they are missing school at a greater rate than their peers, setting themselves up for the negative fallout that accompanies absenteeism. What’s keeping them from school, more than heath issues, is the stigma and the bullying that accompanies being overweight. Future research should explore this additional, very damaging side effect of being overweight.”

The study builds on others that show that the medical and psychosocial consequences of being overweight are numerous and still being discovered. The disadvantages that arise from missing school such as increased drug use, increased rates of pregnancy and poor academic performance have been previously documented. Meanwhile, the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in the United States during the past 25 years.

The four indicators of increased absenteeism among school children have traditionally been race, socioeconomic status, age and gender. Young men from economically disadvantaged, minority populations were considered at greater risk for school absenteeism, and that remains true; however, in this study, BMI was a better indicator of poor classroom attendance than these traditional factors or any others.

Researchers attempted to control for the socioeconomic differences among students by selecting inner-city schools that were homogeneously among the city’s poorest. More than 80 percent of students at these schools were eligible for free and reduced-cost meal plans.

Source: University of Pennsylvania

Explore further: Inpatient psychotherapy is effective in Germany

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

32 minutes ago

LiquidPiston has a new X Mini engine which is a small 70 cubic centimeter gasoline powered "prototype. This is a quiet, four-stroke engine with near-zero vibration. The company said it can bring improvements ...

Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

1 hour ago

The exclusive club of explorers who have discovered a rare new species of life isn't restricted to globetrotters traveling to remote locations like the Amazon rainforests, Madagascar or the woodlands of the ...

New terahertz device could strengthen security

1 hour ago

We are all familiar with the hassles that accompany air travel. We shuffle through long lines, remove our shoes, and carry liquids in regulation-sized tubes. And even after all the effort, we still wonder if these procedures ...

European space plane set for February launch

1 hour ago

Europe's first-ever "space plane" will be launched on February 11 next year, rocket firm Arianespace said Friday after a three-month delay to fine-tune the mission flight plan.

Recommended for you

Inpatient psychotherapy is effective in Germany

44 minutes ago

Sarah Liebherz (Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Sven Rabung (Institute of Psychology, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt) have examined 59 studies conducted between 1977 ...

A game changer to boost literacy and maths skills

2 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Finding the best way to teach reading has been an ongoing challenge for decades, especially for those children in underprivileged areas who fail to learn to read. What is the magic ingredient that will ...

How do we make moral judgements?

3 hours ago

In a target article published in the current issue of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB) Neuroscience, Université de Montréal and IRCM neuroethics experts open the black box of moral intuitions by suggesting a new ...

Missing gene linked to autism

23 hours ago

Researchers at the University of Leeds have shed light on a gene mutation linked to autistic traits.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.