Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Association between Overweight/obesity and Academic Performance in South Korean Adolescents

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Association between Overweight/obesity and Academic Performance in South Korean Adolescents

Article excerpt

SUMMARY

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between academic performance and obesity/overweight among South Korean adolescents. Our data set included 72,399 adolescents in grades 7-12 who had participated in the 5th Korea Youth Risk Behaviour Web-based Survey (KYRBWS-V) in 2009. We assessed the association between academic performance and body mass index (BMI), using multivariate logistic regression analysis after adjusting for covariates such as age, parents' education level, economic status, mental stress experienced, sleep duration, frequency of muscle-strengthening exercises, smoking and drinking behaviour, and vigorous and moderate physical activity (PA). For boys, being overweight (compared with being of normal weight) had a significantly greater odds of poor academic performance (OR=1.182, 95% Cl 1.052-1.329, p=0.005). Obese boys had 1.182 (1.048-1.332, p=0.006), 1.461 (1.294-1.648, p<0.001), and 1.443 (1.256-1.657, p<0.001) greater odds of having average, poor, and very poor performance, respectively. In the analysis for girls, overweight girls had 1.314 (1.124-1.536, p<0.001) and 1.296 (1.084-1.548, p=0.004) greater odds of having poor and very poor academic performance, respectively. Finally, obese girls had 1.374 (1.098-1.718, p=0.005), 1.672 (1.339-2.089, p<0.001), and 1.887 (1.478-2.409, p<0.001) greater odds of having average, poor, or very poor academic performance, respectively. Thus, overweight/obesity was negatively associated with academic performance in both boys and girls. The results of this study indicate that adolescents would benefit from weight management to prevent obesity and, possibly, improve academic performance.

Key words: academic performance, adolescent, obesity

INTRODUCTION

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17% (i.e. 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese, with the obesity prevalence in these groups having almost tripled since 1980 (1). Because obesity is known to be a major risk factor for diseases such as type-II diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and cancer, it has become a major social and public health concern worldwide (1).

According to the 4th Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES-IV), 31.3% of adults aged 19 years or older in South Korea are obese, as compared to 33.8% of adults in the United States. Furthermore, 11.3% of adolescents aged 12-18 years in South Korea are obese, as compared to approximately 17% of their counterparts in the United States. However, research indicates that the prevalence of obesity is steadily increasing with every year (1-2).

Excess weight status is related to race, gender, socioeconomic status, culture, genetics, physical inactivity, mass media use (e.g. excessive TV viewing), and fast food intake (3-4). Therefore, many studies have investigated the possibility of preventing or treating obesity by addressing its major risk factors, such as low physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviour (5-7).

Interestingly, obesity might also be associated with reduced cognitive capabilities and memory functions (8-13). Indeed, a high body mass index (BMI) has been linked with negative alterations in brain structure and an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (14-15).

Academic performance is generally considered related to cognitive and memory functions (16). Given the negative association of obesity with cognitive and memory functions (8-15), being overweight/obesity might have a negative influence on the academic achievement of adolescents. However, epidemiological evidence regarding the association between being overweight/ obesity and adolescents' academic performance is lacking. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine whether being overweight/obesity was related to academic performance among adolescent South Korean students. …

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