Document Type : Research Article (s)


1 Center for Research and Advanced Studies, Department of Human Ecology, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

2 King’s College London, London, United Kingdom

3 Center for Regional Studies “Dr. Hideyo Noguchi” Biomedical Unit, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

4 Faculty of Medicine, Autonomous University of Yucatan, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

5 Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, USA


Background: Obesity has negative impact on health and socialization. Previous studies found that children with obesity have lower grades, but it is unclear: a) if specific subject might affect their grade point averages, b) if the results of standardized tests and school grades are the same for children with and without obesity in a community where pediatric obesity is highly prevalent.
Objectives: The current study aimed to compare school grades and standardized test scores of children with and without obesity in a probabilistic sample of primary school children from Southern Mexico, where overweight/obesity is highly prevalent.
Methods: The study measured a probabilistic sample of 2971 children going to public primary schools in Merida, Mexico, transformed the anthropometric data into body mass index (BMI) z-scores according the world health organization (WHO) reference values and categorized children according to their BMI status, and the scores they obtained in national standardized tests (n = 2791). The study analyzed the association between children with/without obesity and their academic performance in terms of school grades and standardized tests using mean comparison T-tests and multinomial logistic regression models using Stata 12.
Results: Differences were observed between obese and non-obese children in overall grade point averages; however, no differences were observed on national standardized academic test scores. In analyzing specific academic subject areas, no differences were observed in grades for math, literature, social sciences, life sciences and art. The only significant difference observed was in the grade for physical education with obese students earning lower grades than their non-obese counterparts.
Conclusions: There were no significant differences between the children with obesity and those without obesity in standardized tests. Students without obesity had significantly higher grade point average than their peers with obesity (8.4 and 8.5, respectively; P < 0.000).