School Performance and Weight Status among Low-Income Canadian Children and Adolescents
Mount Saint Vincent University
Increasing health care costs combined with climbing rates of child overweight and obesity are of significant concern worldwide, and in particular, Canada. Existing evidence shows clear linkages between child weight status and poorer health outcomes in adulthood, but results are conflicting regarding the association between childhood obesity and educational outcomes, which may mediate this relationship. Our study therefore intended to explore relationships between school performance and weight status and to determine predictive factors among a cohort of disadvantaged children in the context of their ecological environments. A Social Ecological Model (SEM) viewpoint employing Social Cognitive Theory formed the basis of the approach taken, in the context of the Child Development Framework which also describes “development as a function of interaction” within several concentric layers of environmental influence. Longitudinal data from the Better Beginnings Better Futures (BBBF) research demonstration project from eight low-income Ontario communities was used for this study. A total of n=1014 cases were included from among the older cohort of children aged 4 to 8 years at the start of the study. Child height and weight were both self-reported, and measured according to established guidelines, in grade 6 and 9, but were self reported in grade 12. Parents also self reported height and weight.
health care , obesity , children , adolescents , overweight , low income , education