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A study has uncovered a link between childhood obesity and the ability to solve problems. The study states that the global epidemic of childhood obesity has become a major public health concern. Yet, evidence regarding the association between childhood obesity and cognitive health has remained scarce.

In this study 74 children aged between 7 and 9 were given a series of tasks to measure their cognitive abilities and reaction times. The children were split into two groups, obese and healthy weight. The results showed that the reaction times of the obese children were slower than the healthy weight children.

Results also showed that the obese children gave incorrect answers slightly more often, and when wrong answers were given, took longer to answer the next question.

The Institute for Food, Brain and Behaviour said the study underlined the role of proper nutrition in children’s ability to learn.

Dr Paul Clayton added: ‘The link between obesity and cognition is not a simple one.

‘There may well be a relationship between obesity and impaired neurological and neurochemical processes but there are other possibilities which should be considered.

‘If these children became obese due to high intakes of high-calorie processed or ‘convenience’ foods there is a distinct possibility that they are malnourished.

‘That is, they are depleted in the many nutrients and micronutrients required for neurological maintenance and function.

‘The results of this study may indicate that we are facing a much more complex and pervasive problem.’

It is essential that young children are given the correct nutrition to help their brain develop and function properly. Ensuring that a child’s diet is varied and containing optimal levels of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids will create the correct environment for the brain to work to its full potential.1


Read the article online.

Access the Journal article here


  1. Kamijo K, Pontifex MB, Khan NA, Raine LB, Scudder MR, Drollette ES, et al. The negative association of childhood obesity to cognitive control of action monitoring. Cereb Cortex. 2014;24(3):654-62.

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