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Highlighting innovative "outside the box" ideas, programs, research and products addressing the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity.

Monday, August 13, 2007

School Absenteeism Higher For Obese Kids

According to a study just released, obese students have a higher absenteeism rate than their slimmer classmates
- which researchers contend can lead to a plethora of additional problems as they get older. Of the 1,069 fourth through sixth grade students that participated in the research program, obese children missed approximately 20% more school than their normal weight peers. The study was conducted by Andrew B. Geier, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. "At this early age to show that already they're missing school, and missing school is such a major setup for big-time problems, that's something school policy people have to know," Geier said.

Researchers believe weight problems at this age are more of a psychological/esteem issue than a health issue. "At this young age, children are not necessarily experiencing the health problems that will likely confront them later in life unless serious intervention takes place," said Geier. "However, they are missing school at a greater rate than their peers, setting themselves up for the negative fallout that accompanies absenteeism. What's keeping them from school, more than heath issues, is the stigma and the bullying that accompanies being overweight. Future research should explore this additional, very damaging side effect of being overweight." Geier suggests these side effects could include poor grades, becoming unhealthy and developing obesity related diseases, not finishing school and even engaging in risky behavior that could lead to pregnancy, AIDS and other STD's.

To learn more about this study, click here.

In good health,

Phil Christian
LifeStyle Media Group


Rae Pica said...

It may come as a surprise to some people that overweight children, like overweight adults, face discrimination even among themselves. In one study, 6-year-olds were shown silhouettes of different people and then asked to describe them. Regardless of their own body size, the children consistently conferred negative labels when presented with a silhouette of a heavy child, using such words as stupid, slow, lazy, and dirty!

Perhaps even more appalling, in yet another study teachers were found to equate beauty with brains.

We clearly need to address the obesity issue, but it seems we also should be working toward greater understanding, sensitivity, and empathy!

Phil Christian said...

Well said Rae. I've checked out your website and blog, and love what you are doing - and have accomplished. Keep up the great job you are doing in spreading an important message. Continued success in all that you do!


DrGwenn said...

I wish I could say I was surprised. It does sadden me that we need studies to prove this but perhaps this can wake up parents that talking about obesity in young kids is important; and, wake up educators that we need more REAL, and fun, athletic programs geared towards younger overweight kids.

I did a back to school news spot on TV the other day and one of my tips was a reminder to parents that after 6 hours in school, kids need time to run around. Kids are being so over programmed their after school lives have become like adults working two jobs. I'm trying on new messages this year to at least try and stop the clock, and scales, for some of these kids. I'll keep you posted...the next step is more family-oriented athletic activities. Perhaps a new approach all around is what's needed. Boost the self-esteem in the family unit, boost the self-esteem in the child. That's my theory.

Rae: just checked out your blog. Great stuff! I agree with your entire approach.

Dr. G

Phil Christian said...


I picked up your latest television appearance off your blog and was actually planning to embed it into a future blog article. I agree 100% with everything you said - kids are very over-programed today (my kids went back to school a few weeks ago and I'm already finding it hard to strike the right balance between fun time and other commitments). I'll look forward to reading your thoughts on some family-oriented activities in your future blog articles and television appearances. We definitely need more self esteem to spread around!


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