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Study: Obese Children Take Longer To Work Through Problems

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An overweight child reads her part in a skit. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

An overweight child reads her part in a skit. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) - The findings of a recent study suggest that obese children may experience more difficulty with solving problems and answering questions than their slimmer classmates.

Researchers involved in the study, which was published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, noted that “[t]he global epidemic of childhood obesity has become a major public health concern,” but felt that “evidence regarding the association between childhood obesity and cognitive health has remained scarce.”

“This study examined the relationship between obesity and cognitive control using neuroelectric and behavioral measures of action monitoring in preadolescent children,” an abstract summary of the study, published to the journal’s website, continued.

In order to reach their conclusion, researchers asked both obese children and children whose body mass indexes fell within normal ranges to perform what they referred to as “compatible and incompatible stimulus–response conditions of a modified flanker task.”

Those involved in the study observed longer reaction times from the obese participants, in addition to an overall lack of accuracy, in comparison to the healthier children.

The team concluded, “These results suggest that childhood obesity is associated with a decreased ability to modulate the cognitive control network, involving the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex, which supports action monitoring.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, childhood obesity has ” more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.”

“The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012,” researchers noted on the CDC website. “Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent over the same period.”

Researchers from the University of Georgia, the University of Texas at Austin, Waseda University in  Japan, Michigan State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign all collaborated on this study, according to its summary.

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