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Publication Detail
Is earlier obesity associated with poorer executive functioning later in childhood? Findings from the Millennium Cohort Study
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Creese HM, Hope S, Christie D, Goddings AL, Viner R
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Pediatric Obesity
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
© 2021 The Authors. Pediatric Obesity published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of World Obesity Federation. Background: Children affected with overweight or obesity have been associated with having lower educational achievement compared to peers who are non-overweight/obese. One of the drivers of this association could be a link between obesity and poorer executive function. Evidence is limited to small, cross-sectional studies which lack adjustment for important common causes. Objective: We investigate the association between weight status and executive function longitudinally in mid-childhood, accounting for potential common causes. Methods: Linear regression analyses were conducted to examine associations between weight status between 5 and 7 years and executive functioning at 11 years in members of the Millennium Cohort Study (n = 7739), accounting for a wide range of potential common causes. Age- and sex-specific International Obesity Taskforce cut-points for body mass index (BMI) were used. Executive function, including decision-making, impulsivity and spatial working memory, was assessed using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. Results: There were no unadjusted associations between weight status and decision-making or impulsivity. After adjustment for all potential common causes, there was a lack of consistent evidence to support an association between persistent obesity (including overweight) between 5 and 7 years and spatial working memory task at 11 years. Conclusions: We found little evidence that poorer spatial working memory contributes to the association of children with obesity having lower educational achievement.
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