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Scholastic burden

Times Staff Writer

Overweight kids are at risk for a host of health complications, including elevated cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. They also may do more poorly in school.

When grade point averages were compared among 566 middle school students in a suburb of Philadelphia, overweight students came in at about half a grade point lower than normal-weight kids.

The study, published in the July issue of the journal Obesity, also found that overweight students had lower reading comprehension scores on a nationally standardized test, ranking in the 66th percentile; normal-weight kids ranked in the 75th percentile. Heavier kids were also five times more likely to have six or more detentions than their normal-weight peers, had more school absences and lower physical fitness test scores, and were less inclined to participate on athletic teams -- 37% compared with 75% of normal-weight students.

Stuart Shore, a doctoral candidate in kinesiology at Temple University in Philadelphia, and lead author of the study, speculates that overweight kids who have low self-esteem might be less inclined to attend school and may not relate well with their teachers.

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jeannine.stein@latimes.com

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To read about overweight employees and perceptions in the workplace, go to the Booster Shots blog at latimes.com/boostershots.

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