Obese Teenagers Score Lower On Cognitive Tests
Overweight teenagers who develop a cluster of conditions called the “metabolic syndrome” are more likely to perform poorly on tests of mental ability compared to their healthy peers, according to a new study. These conditions include abdominal obesity, unhealthy cholesterol/trigylceride levels and high blood pressure, says Dr. Antonio Convit of NYU in an article by HealthDay News:
“‘What we found was that those with metabolic syndrome performed about 10 percent less well, on average, on a series of cognitive tests that look at things like spelling and math. They were still performing within the normal range, but significantly less well on skills that are very relevant for predicting school performance,’ Convit said. ‘And who would want their kids to perform 10 percent less than their potential, even if they’re performing within the normal range?’
Adding to what the authors of the study described as ‘alarming results’ on the tests, MRI scans revealed that the group with metabolic syndrome had experienced a relative 10 percent reduction in the volume of the hippocampus region of their brains. What’s more, brain atrophy was also found to be more prevalent among these teens in the parts of the brain that make connections between different neurological regions.
‘So, what this means is that even though the hippocampus reductions were not so severe as to be in the abnormal range, the brains of [these] kids are not working on all pistons,’ Convit said. ‘Which means there is probably a good reason that those who are obese often tend to drop out of school more often than those who are not. They probably are more frustrated because they can’t learn as readily. That 10 percent drop probably does make a difference.’” Read more here.
A sobering example of how tight the link between physical health and intellectual functioning is. Helping kids get healthy also helps them think more clearly.