Recent research suggests that activity and body weight play a role in determining a child's cognitive ability.
Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University have found that weight and the level of activity a child gets can play a key role in their ability to acquire and recall new information. According to a university press release, weight and activity have a much bigger role in determining cognitive ability than previously thought.
According to Dr. Catherine Davis, a clinical health psychologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, “The question this paper asks that has not been asked before is whether it is just fitness that influences children’s cognition. What we found is weight and physical activity both matter.”
Children with lower body weight and higher levels of physical activity scored higher on cognitive tests than their peers who were inactive or overweight. The study was published in the journal Pediatric Exercise Science, and suggests that weight can affect cognitive ability regardless of physical activity.
The study examined 45 children with a normal weight aged 7 to 11, 24 that were active and 21 that were not. Physically active children were defined as those who participated in activities like swimming, gymnastics, team sports, or dancing for at least one hour each week. It compared the results of cognitive ability tests to those of 45 inactive and overweight children of similar educational background.