The Relationship between Academic Achievement and Childhood Obesity Essay Example

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Assignment 2

Research Proposal

The Relationship between Academic Achievement and Childhood Obesity


The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared childhood obesity an epidemic in 2013. According to the CDC (2013) approximately one third of children aged between 2 and 19 were either obese or overweight. This is a pointer to the increased levels of unhealthy eating amongst children, with most children preferring fast food and low levels of physical exercise both at school and home. Yau et al. (2012) reported that obesity affects vital organs such as lungs and the heart and could be one of the reasons responsible for reduced cognitive abilities observed in obese adolescents. Previous studies have explored the connection between academic achievement and a child’s nutrition and health. The areas earlier explored include the relationship between academic achievement and a child’s physical activity, food consumption and parents’ obesity status.

percentile of body mass index (Koirala, et al., 2014). Obesity is mainly caused by the consumption of too many calories and the failure to effectively expend the consumed calories in the right quantities (South and Moloney, 2015). However, other factors, for instance, gender of the child, birthweight, age, and race can influence the probability of a child to become either obese or overweight. In addition, research has also established relationships between occupation, income and education level of the guardian with the prevalent obesity rates (Koirala, et al., 2014).th and 95th Medical practitioners normally use the BMI to determine whether a person has normal weight or if he/she is obese. BMI is simply a ratio of the body weight of an individual to his/her height. For children and adolescents, this is normally a measure of body fat. In order for obese levels to be determined in these demographic groups, percentiles and sex of the child or adolescent are utilised. The CDC (2013) defines “overweight” and “obesity” as being between the 85

Purpose of the Study

attitudes towards school in general and certain school subjects in particular. The prevalence of childhood obesity rose globally to 8% in 2011 from an initial value of 4% in 1980 and this rising trend is expected to be observed up to 2030 (Koirala, et al., 2014). With this rising childhood obesity rate, the question as to whether obesity affects cognitive performance is of great interest. The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between obesity, and other factors such as gender, race and other socio-economic variables so as to establish if there is a link that exists between the aforementioned variables and academic achievement of a child and his/her

Literature Review

A number of research studies have been widely undertaken in the past regarding in the factors associated with childhood obesity. Whilst studying the prevalence rates of childhood obesity in Nepal, Koirala et al. (2014) reported that social economic status (SES) of the family was significantly associated with childhood overweight/obesity. These results were also reported by Brophy et al. (2009) in his analysis of the Millenium Cohort study (MCS). Brophy and colleagues concluded that childhood obesity was associated with both lower education levels and lower income levels. In examining childhood obesity prevalence rates in Europe and the United States, Stamatakis et al. (2010) and Singh et al. (2008) also reported a significant socio-economic gradient in childhood obesity rates, whereby, the rates of obesity increases as socio-economic status decreases. This finding was also similar to that reported by Young (2014) in their analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K). In this study Young reports that household income increases the probability of childhood obesity in poor families, and this relationship becomes stronger as the children age. The relationship between BMI (a proxy for childhood obesity) has also been widely studied by researchers such as Wang and Beydoun (2007), Wang and Zhang (2006) and McLaren (2007). In all these studies there is a general concurrence that an inverse relationship exists between social economic status (SES) of the family and BMI in developed countries like the United Kingdom (McLaren, 2007). The results in all these papers therefore suggest that children from poor backgrounds were more likely to be either obese or overweight when compared to children from well of backgrounds.

Other studies, however, report complex relationships between social economic status (SES) and BMI, and between social economic status (SES) and gender. For instance, Balistreri & Van Hook (2010) in their longitudinal study of children postulated that low parental education and income (two indicators of social economic status [SES], were significant risk factors for overweight after kindergarten in girls (Miyazaki & Stack, 2015). However, for boys, they only observed the parents’ level of education as the only significant social economic status indicator. Overweight after kindergarten in boys was negatively correlated with the parents’ level of education (Balistreri & Van Hook, 2010; Miyazaki & Stack, 2015).

Thompson et al. (1998) and Gordon-Larsen et al. (2003) also cited body image, dietary habits and culture as significant reasons for racial/ethnic disparities in BMI or childhood obesity (Miyazaki & Stack, 2015).
Prior studies have also established childhood obesity (BMI) is influenced not only by a child’s social economic status (SES) but it is also significantly influenced by race/ ethnicity. A study by Ogden et al. (2014) found that the prevalence of obesity in racial and ethnic minorities, specifically Hispanic and black children, was higher in comparison to white children. An interesting finding was also reported by Wang and Zhang (2006) suggesting that high social economic status (SES) increased the odds of being obese or overweight twofold in black children. Apart from reporting social economic status (SES) as a factor influencing childhood obesity,

Research Questions

  1. Is there a relationship between childhood obesity and academic achievement both at primary and post primary schools?

  2. Does being obese influence a child’s attitude towards school?

  3. Is the effect of obesity on academic achievement of a child affected by gender or race/ethnicity of the child?

  4. Is obesity linked with academic achievement of social class and the level of educational that their parents achieved?


There is no association between childhood obesity and academic achievement at both primary and post primary school.: The Relationship between Academic Achievement and Childhood Obesity

Obesity negatively influences a child’s attitudes towards school.: The Relationship between Academic Achievement and Childhood Obesity 1

The effect of obesity on academic achievement of a child is mediated by gender but not by race/ethnicity of the child.: The Relationship between Academic Achievement and Childhood Obesity 2

Social class and education levels of the main parent associated with academic achievement after controlling for obesity.: The Relationship between Academic Achievement and Childhood Obesity 3


. Additionally, the research methodology approach will aid utilization of tables, figures, and charts in the presentation of the findings. The qualitative approach will incorporate the usage of three approaches to test for the hypotheses: regression analysis (tests for causality), test of two means (t-tests), and ANOVA (test of more than two means). Bryman and Bell, 2007)In the process of determining the relationship between academic achievement and childhood obesity, the focus will be on implementation of quantitative research technique. Quantitative research method proves to be more reliable through provision of the platform to use valuable statistics in generalizing the results or findings of the research. Furthermore, the research approach will facilitate development of hypothesis and testing in relation to the research question and objectives. This is through utilization of the theory testing while assuming the fact that sample is representative of the population. In the case of quantitative research method, the level of subjectivity is minimum, thus the opportunity to determine the relationships between variables. This facilitates the establishment of the cause and effect in the context of highly controlled circumstances (

patterns of the study and basic characteristics (Keeping, 2010). The methodology used will allow me to collect data to determine if there is a significant relationship between childhood obesity and academic achievement, affecting their attitude towards school or if childhood obesity linked with social class, gender or race. Inferential statistics is used to draw conclusions about the population based on the sample used within the study. The descriptive statistics will attempt to describe what the data shows whereas inferential statistics only aims to determine whether an observed difference is due to chance alone or if it is actually dependable on a variable. For quantitative data, we normally start by carrying out descriptive statistics to determine the

The study will focus on the adoption and integration of quantitative research methods, which enhances reliability and facilities the use of statistics towards generalising the findings. My aim during this study is to develop econometric models that can estimate the effect of obesity on academic achievement after controlling factors such as the child’s age, gender and academic achievement

Sampling and Participants

research participants. prior to administration of the questionnaires (Bryman and Bell, 2007) the study will consider the usage of simple random sampling in the process of determining the research participants. The study will consider the use of simple random sampling in the selection of the parents and children in the primary and post primary to explicate the efficiency and proficiency in the collection of data. The study will seek to determine the population of such schools by completing a power analysis beforehand to guide the development and administration of the questionnaires
The study will set out to be a demographic analysis and will consider schools in the Belfast area with reference to primary, as well as post primary setting. The schools will vary in relation to social class and gender. In addition, the study will consider incorporation of all girls’ schools, all boys’ school, and a mixed school in the course of generating results in accordance with the research questions and objectives. Similarly, it is vital to note that all schools will include diverse races for the effectiveness and efficiency in the evaluation and assessment of data. In addition,

Data Collection and Analysis Procedures

The most appropriate data collection technique for this study will be integration of a self-administered questionnaire completed in the presence of the research staff. The research will focus on the utilisation of the charts, tables, and figures in the course of presenting the outcomes or findings in accordance with the questionnaires. This will provide a platform for the usage of the regression analysis and t-test, which will be appropriate in the testing of the hypotheses (Bryman and Bell, 2007).

Ethical issues/Considerations

In the course of executing this research, the study will focus on adherence to the privacy or confidentiality obligations via a consent form. Guidance will also be taken from BERA 2004 to ensure ethical standards are being adhered to. The study will focus on the usage of pseudo names for the research participants to protect sensitive information and identity. In addition, the study will maintain and incorporate direct information from the respondents with the intention of limiting subjectivity while promoting objectivity. Similarly, there is need to focus on adherence to the universal research platforms and approaches in the collection and analysis of data for effectiveness and efficiency in the execution of the study.

Methodological Challenges

One of the major challenges in relation to conducting the study relates to the inability of the research participants to offer truth and open information. This is through their perception towards participating in the research as stigmatizing. In addition, there might be resentment from the research participants with the fear of exposing sensitive information on their private life. The study will consider engaging the research participants on the objectives and reasons to participate in the research process to aid in the elimination of such issues.


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