Obesity in Pre-School Years Linked To Some Cognitive Deficits

Dr Anne Martin PhD Research Associate/Research Fellow Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC) Institute for Sport, PE & Health Sciences University of Edinburgh TeleScot Research Group Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics Edinburgh

Dr. Martin

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Anne Martin PhD

Research Associate/Research Fellow
Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC)
Institute for Sport, PE & Health Sciences
University of Edinburgh
TeleScot Research Group
Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics
Edinburgh

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Martin: Impairments in cognitive development during childhood can have detrimental effects on health behaviour, educational attainment, and socio-economic status later in life. Epidemiological evidence indicates an association between childhood obesity and cognition and educational attainment. Knowledge of when obesity related deficits in cognition and attainment emerge, and how large the deficits are at various ages, may be useful to support arguments for school-based obesity prevention initiatives and in translating evidence on this topic into policy aimed at preventing obesity.

In this study we explored whether the adverse association between obesity and cognition emerges in early childhood. Measures of cognitive abilities included visuo-spatial skills, expressive language skills and reasoning skills. Our findings indicated that obesity in the pre-school years may be weakly associated with some poorer cognitive outcomes at age 5 years in boys, independently of socioeconomic status.

Stronger relationships between obesity and cognition or educational attainment may emerge later in childhood. Evidence from an English cohort study suggested an adverse association between obesity in teenage girls and lower academic attainment in Mathmatics, Science and English.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Martin: Obesity related deficits in some cognitive abilities are emerging in pre-school years. Therefore, obesity prevention initiatives should start as early as in early childhood.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Martin: This study assessed some but not all cognitive abilities. Future research could explore the relationship between obesity and other measures of cognition such as attention, impulsivity and inhibition control at pre-school age. This study was observational, and intervention studies would provide stronger evidence of the impact of obesity on cognitive outcomes.

Citation:

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Dec 6. doi: 10.1002/oby.21329. [Epub ahead of print]

Associations between obesity and cognition in the pre-school years.

Martin A1, Booth JN2, Young D3, Revie M4, Boyter AC5, Johnston B5, Tomporowski PD6, Reilly JJ1.

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Dr Anne Martin PhD (2015). Obesity in Pre-School Years Linked To Some Cognitive Deficits