Children with health problems relating to obesity do not perform so well in school, according to a new study.
Researchers from New York University carried out standard exams, blood tests and brain scans on 49 children with metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of at least three health problems associated with obesity, which can include large waist, low good cholesterol, high blood fats, high blood pressure and insulin resistance.
Previous research has already suggested that adults with metabolic syndrome show deficits in thinking ability.
The researchers compared the 49 children with metabolic syndrome to 62 without. All the children were the same age, from similiar socio-economic backgrounds and achieving the same school grade.
Writing in the journal Pediatrics, they found that those with metabolic syndrome had significantly lower maths and spelling scores, as well as decreased attention span and mental flexibility.
In addition, maths scores were ten points lower in the metabolic syndrome group and spelling four points lower.
Those with the condition also had a tendency towards lower IQ.
Dr Convit said: “The kids with metabolic syndrome took longer to do tasks, could not read as well and had poorer math scores.
“These findings indicate that kids with metabolic syndrome do not perform well on things that are very relevant to school performance.”
The children with metabolic syndrome also had a smaller hippocampus- an area in the brain involved in the learning and recall of new information.
Future research is needed to determine whether the problems are reversible with significant weight loss, researchers said.
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