The Effects Of Obesity On Academic Performance



Table of Contents 

Chapter 1:


Context of the Problem…………………………………………………………………………..4

Statement of problem …………………………………………………………………………….5

Significance of the study…………………………………………………………… ……………6

Research questions…………………………………………………………………………………6

Methodology ………………………………………………………………………………..……..7

Organization of the study …………………………………………………………………………8








Related to the wellbeing of children, childhood obesity is one of main issues these days in almost every part of the world. This medical condition adversely affects the mental and physical health of children, as well as their level of self-confidence.On academic level, it puts an unpleasant impact on the mind and confidence of obesity children because of which they usually do not show good academic performances (Sabia, 2007, p. 871).

In developed countries, childhood obesity has become a serious health concern (Dehghan, Akhtar-Danesh,& Merchant, 2005). Obese children usually do not perform well in their studies because they feel inferiority complex when their peers make fun of them. Their level of confidence and self-esteem go down as the result which makes them unable to talk to their teachers and peers in a confident way. It is obvious that at school level, children are not as mentally mature as they get when they grow up. So they do not have any idea whether they are doing a good act by laughing at a comparatively fat fellow or not. They laugh at him/her, make fun, and call him/her by improper names because of which the confidence level of the targeted fellow goes down and he/she becomes unable to cope with the situation. This results in making the child self-conscious and less focused towards studies. Moreover, obese children feel low due to such situations because of which they participate neither in extra-curricular activities nor in classroom activities.In extra-curricular activities, the participation of obese students is almost null as observed in most of the schools. The reason is again the bodies of such students, which do not let them, exert much energy on the field.

Childhood obesity, along with its common biological consequences, is also affecting obese students on an emotional level for the worse. For example, the peers criticize overweight children most of the time. They remain behind in academic and non-academic competitions because they do not feel it easy to face fellows who make fun of them. Studies show that in addition to socioeconomic status, obesity, poor nutrition and food insufficiency after a child’s school achievement. Specifically, students who experience food insufficiency may have lower math scores, social difficulties and psychological difficulties. Additionally severely obese children have been shown to have lower IQs, poorer school performance, and lower test scores than their classmates, even after control for behavioral and socioeconomic variables (Hollar, D., Messiah, S., Almom, M., &Agatson, A., 2009). They still have a tendency to act out during school sections, which sometimes makes it difficult for teachers and other students.Their performance in exams is also not up to the mark because of less interaction with peers and teachers. Major differences exist between the academic performances of obese and non-obese students at kindergarten level (Datar, Sturm, &Magnabosco, 2004, p. 58). During exams, other students interact with each other to discuss important topics, which not only results in strengthening their concepts but also makes them prepared for the upcoming exams. On the other hand, obese children usually cannot do so because they feel safe and good in staying isolated rather than joining the group of friends for studies who make fun of them.

            Overweight and obesity are considered the “number one reason for peer rejection in America” (Jalongo, 1999, p95), and teenagers with these problems have few opportunities to establish intimacy. Friendships during adolescence provide occasions to practice social skills and are more intense and significant than at other time in an individual’s life (Papalia, Olds& Feldman, 2007). Being isolated from peers “may aggravate the social and emotional consequences of overweight in this age group” (Strauss & Pollack, 2003, p. 746). Sometimes depression among these children who are obese can cause them not to relate to their teachers and peers. They shield themselves from the rest of the world because of not being able to focus.  This mental health condition may be a mediating factor for an overweight or obese child to score poorly in school. Regrettably, the cause and effect for the association between obesity and poor academic performance has not yet been established through research. One large study (Datar et al 2004) suggests that obesity is a marker, not cause, of low academic performance. Theoretically, doing poorly in school may increase the risk of obesity. Mental health problems (eg, low self-esteem or depression) or other factors may predispose children to both overweight/obesity and low school performance, with no other direct or indirect association between weight and achievement (Taras, H,&Potts, W. 2005).

Investigators have found in adolescents that the self-perception of obesity is more important than medically defined obesity in predicting poor mental health, self-esteem, psychological distress and behavior problems. Therefore, self- perception of overweight, rather than actual obesity may also be an important mechanism in the understanding of academic performance in adolescents (Florin, R., Vol.81, No.11, 2011).These children has inferiority complex because of their obesity to the extent of them not being able to perform at their best academic progress.

Summing it up, obesity is associated directly with poor academic performances (Taras& Potts-Datema, 2005, p. 291). Obese children are neither able to perform good in academic settings, nor in social and professional settings. It is the responsibility of parents, as well as teachers to make efforts to reduce obesity among young children by focusing on the main causes of obesity, such as, diet quality (Florence, Asbridge, &Veugelers, 2008, p. 209) and less physical exercises.

Context of the Problem

            An observation of obese children of a high school (Davidson High School), and their lagging behind in academics, stimulated this research. These children were aged between 10 and 15. The school has been seeing wonderful academic results in past years, but due to sudden decline in students’ grades, it was important to take notice of what caused children to stay behind from participating in curricular and extra-curricular activities. Hence, this high school became the context of the problem at hand. 

Obesity is a health condition represented by increased and uncontrolled weight gain by an individual resulting from such factors as dieting and genetic inheritance among others (Rausch, 2013). The condition affects all segments of populations, the children, having an increased risk in the modern day. The analysis of performances with school-going children reveals a disparity on performance between the obese students and their counterpart healthy peers. Research studies have revealed that obese students perform relatively poor when compared with the healthy (slim) peers and this translates to increased school dropouts before completion in tertiary levels. Research studies have increasingly been done on close or similar themes to the effects of obesity on academic performance on children in the past. Despite such studies establishing that obesity affects a child’s development both physically and mentally, little is known on how poor academic performance results from the health condition (Crosnoe and Muller, 2004). Research studies should have therefore revealed a causative effect of obesity to children school performance through such justifications as through lowered self esteem, other related health complications, missed academic activities while absent on medical checks and treatment as well as social pressure from peers resulting to poor involvement in curricular activities among  others. This study therefore intends to establish how the health condition of obesity affects academic performance of the school-going children with special attention to all levels of learning.

Statement of the problem

Obesity is increasingly is increasingly a worrying feature among many populations in the modern day targeting all segments of people (children, youths, adults and even the aged) (Sinnott, 2011). Studies have been done in this topic with special attention to the implications of obesity on a student’s performance at all levels of education. For instance, an article by Gardner titled ‘Does obesity affect school performance?’ shone a lot of light on the matter as pertains obesity in school going children and academic performance. Among other findings from the article were that there increased risks of other health complications in obese children such as diabetes, cancers as well as heart attacks among others. Academic performance is increasingly becoming a point of attention to many research studies concerning effects of obesity on school kids (Rashmi and Jaswal, 2012). Self-esteem is mainly the target with the research where researchers have already found correlation between self-esteem and academic performance (Gardner, 2012). This implies that such factors that would lower a child’s self-esteem have the effect of affecting negatively the academic performance of the child. The attitude of parents, teachers as well as the peers towards an obese child determines the esteem that builds up in the child and thus the possible effect on academic performance. 

An observation of obese children of a high school (Davidson High School), and their lagging behind in academics, stimulated this research. This is because the students aged between 10 and 15 years have had great variance in performance when evaluated the basis of child weight. This therefore informed the choice of this theme of study in order to establish factual conclusion on effect of obesity towards academic performance of school-going children. 

Significance of the study

Obesity has been in the recent past gained a lot of interet from the academic field with many of research studies being structured towards causes, effects as well as mitigation practices. As a multifaceted health condition, it touches on the lives of all; the student, the teacher as well as the guardian/ parent. In understanding the implication of obesity towards children development and academics, this study will be instrumental in establishing a factual causation between the two. As Obesity is increasingly becoming dominant in the society, there is therefore the need to have an increased awareness among parents, guardians as well as the teachers who are in the immediate contact with children and whose future relies much on academic excellence. This study will therefore be important in creating awareness on effects of obesity towards general academic performance of children and thus improve on mitigation measures appropriate for the problem. Besides, the study would clearly outline some of the evolutionary stages through which the study of obesity in regard to children and academics have undergone to constitute the current pool of literature. Future studies would also have a lot to learn from the findings of the current study. Moreover, this study will be instrumental in contributing and adding to other literature concerning the theme. 

Research Questions

  1. Is low self-esteem resulting from stigmatization against obese children a reason for poor academic performance? 
  2. Does the absence of reinforcement in schools for stigmatized obese students have an effect on their academic performance? 
  3. Are other resultant complications of obesity on school-going children to blame for poor academic performance?



This part describes the procedure that will be used during the testing of the hypothesis, collecting of data and management of data upon which this study is based. The chapter additionally explains the method that is used during data analysis and the description entailing the scope of the procedure that eventually leads to the answering of the hypothetical questions that was generated previously. Unlike research methods that are used by researchers to refer to distinct techniques that are applied while carrying out a research study, research methodology describes the vast number of processes that a researcher involves while studying specific phenomena. Methodologies therefore refer to the systematic process through which a research study is carried out. Research methods are categorically part of the methodologies that are utilized by a researcher while carrying out a research study. 

Methodology is a critical step while carrying out a research study in that through literature review, one is able to know whether it is a study that has ever been done and if so the methods applied previously and the outcomes that were gotten. It therefore assists the research in determining whether his/her methods have been used in the past and what other methods have ever been used. Moreover, the methodology may depend on the research being either structured or unstructured within the qualitative/quantitative analysis. 

Nevertheless, the conceptual or theoretical research studies such as the current study are guided by some abstract ideas or theories. Testing of the hypothesis, answering of quetions as well as interpretation of the findings is based on some predetermined body of knowledge or theories. The theories are assumed conventional and thus universally acceptable. The research paradigm adopted as either being qualitative or quantitative is equally very instrumental in deciding on the methodology to be applied. Qualitative and quantitative research studies depend on the major differences notable on the nature of reality, epistemology (relationships being studied), use of language, role of values as well as the overall research process (Clarke, 2005).

Analytical methods especially the empirical analyses are applicable within the context of testable variable within studies. Other relationships are not testable hence; the studies adopt the deductive methodologies of carrying out a research study. On the other hand, whenever research variables relate in manners that are both predictable through theoretical deductions and can be testable, the studies will employ the use of the two simultaneously. Deductions from the study findings will then be applicable in general context within the capacity of the study to project and make inferences. By conducting this study under the deductive framework and by use of qualitative analysis, the study methodology is not unique, as others have used the methodology in the past. However, uniqueness is ascertained by the specific analysis engaged within this study as opposed to the other studies carried out in a like or related analysis. This study will therefore wholly rely on the literature in reference to the theme of ‘effects of diabetes on academic performance of students at all levels of education’.


Organization of the study

Obesity among children and school going persons at all ages have been associated with many adverse effects among which are poor physical health and development, reduced mobility increased health risks among which are heart attack, diabetes and some forms of cancer which are all fatal and increases risk of death and also low academic performance. It is in this understanding that this study intends to substantiate the effects of diabetes on academic performance of students at all levels of education. Though there are many factors that would be blamed on the rising cases of obesity within the population, factors surrounding individual human beings takes the larger blame. Poor diet however takes the lead in the causes known to obesity to individuals. There are resultant outcomes that are caused by the health condition varying with the population segment on question as well as in the context of analysis. In analysis of school going children, the effects of obesity are seen through implications on social life, academic performance as well as in personal development (Naticchioni, 2013).  

This study is a qualitative study, which relies wholly on literature deductions to establish the relationship between the health condition of obesity and the performance in academics of students in primary, secondary as well as tertiary levels of education. The study will be organized in distinct chapters based on major research study parts, which are introduction, literature review, methodology, findings and analysis as well as deductions and conclusion. Besides, the last segment will include recommendations on possible future areas of study in the same theme. 



Clarke R. J. 2005.Research models and methodologies. HDR seminar series, Retrieved from

Crosnoe R. and Muller C., (2004). Body Mass Index, Academic Achievement, and School Context: Examining the Educational Experiences of Adolescents at Risk of Obesity. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 45(4): 393-407

Datar0., A., Sturm, R., &Magnabosco, J. (2004). Childhood Overweight and Academic Performance: National Study of Kindergartners and First-Graders. Obesity Research, 12(1), 58-68.

Dehghan, M., Akhtar-Danesh, N., & Merchant, A. (2005).Childhood obesity, prevalence and prevention.Nutrition Journal, 4(24).

Florence, M., Asbridge, M., &Veugelers, P. (2008).Diet Quality and Academic Performance.Journal of School Health, 78(4), 209-215.

Gardner A., (2012). Does obesity affect school performance? Retrieved from:

Naticchioni K., (2013). The Relationship between Obesity and Academic Achievement of School-Age Children.Senior Honors Projects.Paper 9.Retrieved from:

Rausch R., (2013). Nutrition and Academic Performance in School-Age Children The Relation to Obesity and Food Insufficiency. Rausch,JNutr Food Sci, 3(2): 1-3

Rashmi and Jaswal S., (2012). Obesity and  Academic Performance in  Adolescents. Int J EduSci, 4(3): 275-278

Sinnott C. H., (2011). The Impact of Childhood Obesity, Poor Nutrition  And Inactivity on Public School Systems. Retrieved from:

Taras, H.,& Potts-Datema, W. (2005). Obesity and Student Performance at School.Journal of School health, 75(8), 291-295.

Sabia, J. (2007). The Effect of Body Weight on Adolescent Academic Performance.Southern, 81(11)

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