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chrisdh79 OP t1_j9biw62 wrote

From the article: Being overweight is often linked to negatives in children’s physical health but how about to their cognitive health? A study published in PloS One suggests a link between excess weight in preschool children and declined executive functioning.

Overweight and obesity in children has become increasingly prevalent and problematic worldwide in the recent past. Though obesity is thought of commonly as simply being overweight due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise, it is a bit more complex than that. Obesity involves the entire body and can be affected by genetics, environment, and the way these two interact.

Risk factors for childhood obesity can include preterm birth and low birth weight. Cognitive factors, such as executive functioning, have been thought to be related to excess weight by affecting the mental control around healthy habits. A relationship between excess weight and executive functioning impairments has been shown in school-aged children, adolescents, and adults, but there is a gap in literature around preschool aged children, which this study seeks to address.

For their study, Narueporn Likhitweerawong and colleagues utilized 1,181 preschoolers aged 2 to 5 from seven private and public schools in Thailand to serve as their sample. Data was collected in 2021. Schools chosen represented predominantly middle-class socioeconomic status. Children who were underweight or diagnosed with neurodevelopmental or genetic disorders were excluded. Measures included an executive functioning inventory filled out by the participants’ parents, weight status, and pre-specified confounders, such as age, birth weight, breastfeeding status, sex, and more.

Results showed that children who had impaired executive functioning were more likely to be overweight. In particular, impaired inhibition and decreased working memory capacity were both significantly correlated with being overweight for preschoolers in this study.


Jaedos t1_j9dwc23 wrote

I will guarantee you that a lot of those obese kids with EFD have ADHD and they're self medicating with carbs because it keeps them stimulated.

So this is a big chicken-egg issue.


BrotherBeefSteak t1_j9cu70h wrote

I feel like this has been failry obvious for a long time? Obviously cognitive impaired people are going to have a harder time taking care of themselves. Am I wrong or am I missing something


BafangFan t1_j9d15iv wrote

I don't think young toddlers know what a calorie is, or how many they need - or the difference between a good calorie and a bad calorie.

So are kids making and serving their own food, and just making bad choices at it?

Or is the same thing that causes their cognitive abilities to function poorly also causing the metabolism to function poorly?

Two different people eating the exact same meal of the exact same calories can react to that meal very differently depending on how their hormones are balanced


SerialStateLineXer t1_j9e4owm wrote

I can think of at least three possible explanations:

  1. Executive function is heritable, and parents with poor executive function are more likely to overfeed their children.

  2. Children with poor executive function behave in a manner that prompts parents to overfeed them.

  3. Overeating and obesity impair executive function, even in young children.


SerialStateLineXer t1_j9e5pgq wrote

>I don't think young toddlers know what a calorie is, or how many they need - or the difference between a good calorie and a bad calorie.

Perhaps also worth noting that obesity is a relatively new problem in Thailand. While the obesity rate is rapidly increasing, it was below 5% only 20 years ago. It's not a problem they've been dealing with for multiple generations the way we have in the West, and the grandparents of today's children grew up in a time when hunger was a much bigger problem than obesity.


BrotherBeefSteak t1_j9d21qc wrote

If a kid is making their own food their probably fucked up anyways from neglect sadly. So I don't think it's that. An obese child, most times I've seen. Has enabling parents. I don't see the parents really mentioned as the reason a child could be obese at all. I understand that there's extenuating factors. But how rare is it that kid who gets healthy meals from his parents and gets exercise(playing and the like) is overweight?


Ok-Lab-3553 t1_j9fhnh6 wrote

I'm surprised the child's diet was not included in the study. It's proven that what you eat will have an effect on your mental health. So even though the kids probably did not eat the same exact foods, they might have been eating the same types of unhealthy foods that might cause a mental impairment along with the obesity. To leave out the diet in the study which is the main cause of obesity, along with lack of exercise, is surprising. Exercising also improves your mental health.

I propose this same study. However, take the same kids and have them eat a nutrient densed diet and a regular exercise or activity program. Then access the impaired executive function with the weight. Those are the results I would personally love to see because I honestly believe a proper diet and regular exercise program improves brain function and an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can cause brain impairments.


psiloSlimeBin t1_j9fkcaz wrote

I’m not sure if you realize just how much added complexity that is, and how much extra funding would be required. Go ahead and write your grant proposal and see what happens though.


Ok-Lab-3553 t1_j9fq1zp wrote

My apologies I was not trying to spark a debate. I just shared what I honestly thought. I thought that perspective might help other readers as well.

I just think to truly get an understanding of what your sharing, the kids need to be on a regular exercise or activity program and a regular healthy diet. For me that would be more accurate and I'm sure other readers will feel the same way.

I imagine the funding for that would be a lot higher, and probably too much for the study to be conducted in the first place. Not to spark a debate again, but I feel it's important to share, I think it may be a disservice to people reading the study. Because when people here study they think of it as fact a lot of times.

Sparking an honest debate should enhance the study due to my replies relevance to the author and authority figures. Either to discredit my rebuttal completely or to agree a little or completely agree.

To say my rebuttal has to do with funding makes me think my thought process could be relevant if the funds were present to bring it about. Which is a disservice to the overall goal of the study.

My conclusion to your reply is I may be right if the money was there, however since the money isn't, your going to spark an argument.

For such a sensitive health concern, especially when kids are concerned, arguments should never come into the picture. Only healthy debates.