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Obese Teenage Girls Make Lower Grades, Study Reveals

Update Date: Mar 11, 2014 03:18 PM EDT

Want to improve your daughter's grades? Start watching her weight. Teen girls who are obese are more likely to get lower grades, according to a new study.

The latest study conducted by the Universities of Strathclyde, Dundee, Georgia and Bristol has linked that obesity in adolescent girls to lower academic attainment levels throughout their teenage years.

Researchers found that girls who were obese at age 11 had lower academic attainment at 11, 13 and 16 years compared to those of normal weight. Researchers said the findings held true even after accounting for factors like socioeconomic status, mental health, IQ and age of menarche (onset of the menstrual cycle).

The findings revealed that obese girls had lower attainment scores in English, Mathematics, and Science. Obese girls scored a letter grade lower than the C average, scoring an average of D in these core subjects.

Researchers noted that the link between obesity and academic attainment was not as strong in boys.

 "Further work is needed to understand why obesity is negatively related to academic attainment, but it is clear that teenagers, parents, and policymakers in education and public health should be aware of the lifelong educational and economic impact of obesity," principle investigator John Reilly of the University of Strathclyde Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health Science said in a news release.

"There is a clear pattern which shows that girls who are in the obese range are performing more poorly than their counterparts in the healthy weight range throughout their teenage years," added Dr. Josie Booth, of the School of Psychology at the University of Dundee.

The latest study involved nearly 6,000 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The study included academic attainment assessed by national tests at 11, 13 and 16 years and weight status. Researchers noted that 71.4 percent were healthy weight (1935 male, 2325 female), 13.3 percent were overweight (372 male, 420 female) and 15.3 percent were obese (448 male, 466 female).

The findings are published in the International Journal of Obesity.

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