Study suggests obesity can lead to poor performance in the classroom

FORT MYERS, Fla.- A new study suggests children who are overweight have poorer cognitive skills than children who are fit.

Jonathan Henry is an active and healthy young boy. He currently trains in taekwondo, but his mother, Karen Foresman, says it wasn’t always that way.

“Being a kid, the favorite foods are pizza, chicken nuggets, stuff like that,” said Foresman.

The 10-year-old started to gain weight quickly, and it also started to have a negative effect in the classroom.

A study recently published in the Pediatric Exercise Science journal suggests children who are overweight and less active have a more difficult time learning.

“He got to the point where he would read something and he would forget what he read,” said Foresman.

When Jonathan’s grades started to take a downward turn, the family looked for medical help.

“Obesity is classified as a disease,” said Dr. Cayce Jehaimi.

Foresman and her son went to visit Jehaimi at the Lee Memorial Health System, where they learned other families in Southwest Florida are facing the same issues.

Jehaimi says the problems come from the connections between the brain and the body, “There’s a lot of harm that can happen to the brain, if it’s not exposed to the right signals.”

Foresman learned Jonathan has a gluten allergy that caused him to gain weight. Now with a gluten-free diet, he’s lost more than 10 pounds.

“The weight came off, all his blood work started returning back to normal,” said Foresman, and Jonathan’s grades turned back into As.

Jehaimi says a number of factors can lead to weight gain, but it’s the obesity that can affect your child’s cognitive skills. He says children who lose weight could very well see their grades go up.