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Higher BMI and ADHD impact educational outcomes

6 January 2021

A newly-published paper in Nature reports the detrimental impacts of higher BMI and ADHD on educational outcomes. An increase of one unit of BMI at age 10 predicted a decrease in attainment equivalent to 1/3 of a grade in all subjects, as well as almost 8% more absence from school. 

There was less evidence for the detrimental impact of other health conditions, including  asthma and migraines. The effects of BMI and ADHD were not explained by school absence, pointing to other mechanisms by which higher BMI and ADHD impact education. 

The researchers applied genetic causal inference methods to assess the causal relationship of common health conditions at ages 10 and 13 with educational attainment and school absence at ages 14 to 16. 

The participants in the study were 6113 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). 

The research was led by Amanda Hughes of the MRC IEU, with colleagues Kaitlin Wade, Neil Davies and Laura Howe. Researchers from Public Health Wales and the universities of Bath and Cardiff also contributed to the research. 

The research was funded by the Health Foundation. 

Link to paper:  

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