Recent studies have shown that children who are obese are more likely to repeat a grade in school and are less likely to continue on to college or university than their thinner classmates. Obese children tend to have more absences from school than thin children, which can lead to poor performance.
Many are quick to assign this poor performance to poor nutrition, which can be a factor in a few cases. However, the larger factor is a social one. While studies show that children with a higher BMI have lower grades, they also showed that children who perceive themselves as overweight – regardless of their actual BMI – suffered the same performance problems as those who were obese.
Overweight children are treated as inferior by their classmates. A parent will say something like, “Don’t eat so much or you’ll get fat,” to their child, which the child then interprets as, “Fat people are horrible.” When that child then encounters an overweight child in school, they tease them.
The social structure of a primary school is very superficial. The children who have the best clothes or the best toys and who fit in and are good in sports are valued above all others. Western society has decided that obesity is a sign of poor character and lesser value as a person, and that characterization starts the day a child sets foot in school for the first time.
Over time, obese children develop poor self-esteem, lose all confidence, and become depressed, leading to more absences and lower grades. For instance, if a child has to endure their classmates laughing at them and making rude comments every time they fail at something in physical education, they will simply stop participating. This can carry over into other classes, as they will become less likely to participate in any classes, as participation beings attention, which in the case of an overweight child, brings taunting from their classmates.
Throughout this taunting and abuse, overweight children are taught that it is their own fault and that they deserve to be abused because they are fat. This means that they tolerate it and even expect to be treated as less than human, and all they can do to lessen the abuse is avoiding the situation, which in primary school means taking sick days, and after high school means not participating in further education, or even dropping out at the earliest opportunity.
The amazing part in all this is that even through the proposed title of this article, the blame is placed on the overweight children instead of ever placing the blame on the children who abuse them. Instead of teaching our children to tolerate differences, we teach them that certain people deserve abuse, and our children are more than happy to provide it. We tell overweight kids that people will stop teasing them if they lose weight, instead of teaching the other kids not to bully them.
Basically, obese children would have better grades and perform better in school, not if they lost weight, but if the other kids would shut up and mind their own business.
Child’s Weight Affects School Attendance
Does obesity affect school performance?