Children who are overweight or obese may miss more days of school than their normal-weight peers, a study finds.
A study published online recently in the International Journal of Obesity looked at absenteeism rates among 1,387 children age 6 to 11 and 2,185 teens age 12 to 18. Among all the study participants about 16% were overweight and about 19% were obese according to their body mass index.
When researchers looked at school days missed in the past year they saw no significant differences among the weight groups. However, the odds of missing two or more days per month doubled and quadrupled for overweight and obese children, respectively. The same was not seen among teens.
Although the study didn’t give definitive explanations as to why overweight kids miss more days of school than normal-weight children, the authors offered some theories. The missed days, they said, could be indicative of parents’ mental illness or socioeconomic status. But if weight is the reason kids are missing school, a number of factors could be to blame, including a fear of being bullied, of being teased, or of being embarrassed about participating in physical activities.
Physical problems linked with obesity, such as asthma and sleep apnea, they added, could be an issue as well in missing school days.
In other studies obesity has been linked with worse academic performance.