Overweight and obesity in primary school children - cognitive correlates and health-related outcomes
Background: One of the major public health concerns in modern industrialised countries is childhood obesity and its far-reaching consequences. Objective was to investigate associations with cognitive correlates and health-related outcomes. Methods: In the context of a school-based health promotion project 1944 primary school children participated in anthropometric measurements. Children were assigned to weight groups based on BMI percentiles as well as Waist-to-Height-Ratio (central obesity). Parents filled in a questionnaire on health care use, days of absence from school and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Further data on sociodemographic features, lifestyle, and parents’ health were assessed. In a subsample of 498 children a cognitive testing took place. Results: Inhibitory control was significantly associated with BMI percentiles. Obese children displayed lower inhibitory control than overweight and non-overweight children. Besides inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility was associated with body weight but not sustained attention. Centrally obese children (WHtR = 0.5) had significantly more sick days, more visits to a physician and a lower HRQoL than non-obese children. Conclusions: Cross-sectional results indicate an association between cognitive abilities such as inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility and body weight in primary school children. The findings further suggest that especially more extreme overweight is linked to poorer inhibitory skills. Thus, health promotion and prevention efforts might benefit from integrating cognitive training. Future longitudinal and intervention studies are necessary to gain more insight in the directionality of the associations and in the effectiveness of such training units. Furthermore, consequences of central obesity can already be found in early school age highlightening the importance of early intervention measures to establish a healthy lifestyle.
Subject HeadingsGesundheitsförderung [GND]
Obesity; In infancy and childhood [MeSH]
Obesity; Prevention and control [MeSH]