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Childhood Obesity Affects School Performance

Sad to say, it's not at all surprising that one of the effects of childhood obesity -- undetected sleep disorders -- may be showing up in how well our kids learn and behave in school, according to a British study.

Out of 64 children who were studied, all but nine of them suffered from obstructive sleep apnea, a severe form of snoring. Although most of the cases were mild ones, according to scientists, more than 20 percent of them suffered from a moderate or severe form of the condition.

If left untreated -- which is likely because sleep apnea in children has attracted little attention from physicians and researchers -- kids may suffer daytime sleepiness resulting in poor concentration and leading to poor performance at school, scientists said.

The really shame of it all is that the prevention of childhood obesity is far easier than applying treatment options and much of the success of prevention depends on parental involvement. Providing children with nutritious meals and snacks, in addition to setting guidelines and educating them on good nutrition will put them on the road to making healthy decisions as adults.

That's all well and good, as long as kids have good role models, meaning parents willing to "walk the walk" with them.

Dr. Ben Lerner and I will be writing a book about this problem and hope to offer some very specific practical guidelines that should have a major impact on this epidemic.

BBC News December 2, 2004

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