Evaluating the Associations between Physical Activity, Weight Gain and Academic Attainment in Primary School Children

Michael McCluskey, Janine Bridges, Neil Gilson, Jaap H. Buurke, Hermanus J. Hermens, Anand D. Pandyan

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Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study was to identify if there is an association between physical activity, body mass and academic attainment in primary school children.

Methods: Eighty-six children at a UK primary school were included in this cohort analysis. Physical activity status was determined using the Physical Activity Questionnaire – Children. Weight and height was measured, and BMI calculated at 4-time points. Academic attainment was measured from national standardised tests.

Results: Children who are less active demonstrated lower height (mean difference (MD) 0.49 95% CI 0.08 to 0.90), weight (MD 0.58 95% CI 0.12 to 1.04) and BMI z-scores (MD 0.48 95% CI -0.04 to 1.00) than children who are more active. They also had a higher rate of weight gain (0.06 z-score units/month), than children who are more active (0.05*z-core units/ month), and had greater fluctuations in weight. Children who were more active performed significantly better than children who are less active in writing (χ2 16.40, p=0.003) and mathematics (χ2 12.18, p=0.02).

Conclusion: There does appear to be an association between physical activity, body mass and academic attainment in primary school children, such that lower activity levels negatively effects growth and academic performance. These differences could not be solely explained by physical activity level due to unaccounted socio-economic factor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-96
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Activity Research
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2019

Keywords

  • Physical activity
  • Academic attainment
  • Growth
  • BMI
  • Primary school
  • Children

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