August 21, 2007

The Connection between Obesity & Absenteeism

A new study published in the August issue of Obesity found that the more overweight an elementary students is, the more school they miss. Of 180 school days, researchers found that on average the normal weight students missed 10.1 days, overweight kids missed 10.9 days and obese children missed 12.2 days.

Previously, researchers argued that student performance, race, socioeconomic status, age and gender were the top predictors for absenteeism. This new research suggests that weight is a better predictor of absenteeism.

The study didn't explore why the children missed school, but the researchers argue that it is unlikely that medical issues were the cause and that the absenteeism is more likely due to psychosocial factors, i.e. the stigma of being overweight.

NASBE's very own Jim Bogden, coordinator of the Healthy Schools project was quoted in the AP article about the study: "This is exactly the kind of study that will get the attention of policy makers. The correlation with absenteeism is very powerful."

Let's hope that Jim is right- what are you going to do in your state to help curb the obesity epidemic?