Smarter Children Less Likely to Be Overweight?
Does being smarter keep you thinner? If so, I’m in trouble!
A new study draws the conclusion that smarter children are less likely to be overweight. The research looked at 4-year-old children and followed them for two years. The researchers looked for cognitive factors that would end up preventing obesity. The study showed that children at age 4 who had tested higher an a series of cognitive examinations were less likely to be overweight two years later. It also showed that the children who tested lower on the exams were more likely to be overweight by the age of 6. The researchers are looking to follow these results long term to see whether the theory applies beyond age 6.
Now, I have to admit that when I first saw the headline about this study, I smirked a little. I believe that there are so many studies that end up being simply a waste of time, energy, and money. I have to confess that I believe this is one of them.
We already know plenty about childhood obesity. We know that the fat cells we get as babies stay with us for our entire lives. So, if our mothers overfed us, we’ll battle those fat cells throughout our lives. We know that today children have more sedentary play than they (we) used to. Video games, the Internet, and television have relegated “playing outside” to an archaic activity of a bygone era. And probably the most significant factor in childhood obesity has to do with food. Shocking, I know. Children are eating more processed foods, including junk food, and not getting enough raw fruits and vegetables in general. As that effects the health of the whole body, I would imagine that a child’s brain function would follow suit. Would it determine intelligence? I don’t believe so. However, there’s no denying that all these factors impact a person’s productivity and success. But, that is old news! And I probably won’t be getting a grant to research this proposal.
The other interesting aspect of this study is the presupposition that cognitive ability determines body weight. If they “prove” their hypothesis to be true in the long-term studies, what implications would that have on children and parents who read it? Would the assumption be that an overweight child is not as intelligent as a thin one?! And what about the thin child who doesn’t do well in school? What is he or his parents to make of his “failure” as a thin child?
I’d love to consult those who decide to pursue these sort of studies and talk with them about reconsidering their theses so as to consider the purpose of their work. What benefit would it bring to families? Is there any take-away advice to give or lifestyle changes that can be made as a result? If the end result will simply make one group feel good and everyone else feel doomed, it’s probably not a good idea to pursue the research. But that’s just the opinion of a former teacher and a mom.
What do you consider the most significant factors related to children’s intelligence? What do you think of studies like this one that seem to leave people feeling either blessed or doomed?