Childhood Obesity and Academic Performance The Role of Working Memory.pdf

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ORIGINAL RESEARCHpublished: 19 April 2017doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00611Edited by:Purificación Checa,University of Cádiz, SpainReviewed by:Thomas James Lundy,Cuttlefish Arts, USAAdelinda Araujo Candeias,University of Évora, Portugal*Correspondence:Nan Wu[email protected]Specialty section:This article was submitted toEducational Psychology,a section of the journalFrontiers in PsychologyReceived:21 November 2016Accepted:03 April 2017Published:19 April 2017Citation:Wu N, Chen Y, Yang J and Li F(2017) Childhood Obesityand Academic Performance: The Roleof Working Memory.Front. Psychol. 8:611.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00611Childhood Obesity and AcademicPerformance: The Role of WorkingMemoryNan Wu1*, Yulu Chen1, Jinhua Yang1and Fei Li21Department of Psychology, Teachers’ College of Beijing Union University, Beijing, China,2Department of Developmentaland Behavioral Pediatrics, Shanghai Children’s Medical Center, Ministry of Education-Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children’sEnvironmental Health, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, ChinaThe present study examined the role of working memory in the association betweenchildhood obesity and academic performance, and further determined whether memorydeficits in obese children are domain-specific to certain tasks or domain-general. A totalof 227 primary school students aged 10–13 years were analyzed for weight and height,of which 159 children (44 “obese,” 23 “overweight,” and 92 “normal weight”) filled outquestionnaires on school performance and socioeconomic status. And then, all subjectsfinished three kinds of working memory tasks based on the digit memory task in 30 trials,which were image-generated with a series of numbers recall trial sets. After each trial set,subjects were given 5 s to recall and write down the numbers which hand appeared inthe trial, in the inverse order in which they had appeared. The results showed there weresignificant academic performance differences among the three groups, with normal-weight children scoring higher than overweight and obese children after Bonferronicorrection. A mediation model revealed a partial indirect effect of working memory in therelationship between obesity and academic performance. Although the performance ofobese children in basic working memory tests was poorer than that of normal-weightchildren, they recalled more items than normal-weight children in working memorytasks involving with food/drink. Working memory deficits partially explain the pooracademic performance of obese children. Those results indicated the obese childrenshow domain-specific working memory deficits, whereas they recall more items thannormal-weight children in working memory tasks associated with food/drink.Keywords: overweight and obese, children, academic performance, working memory, learning and memoryINTRODUCTIONThe prevalence of childhood obesity in China has tripled in the past 10 years, and more than 20% of7–17 year-olds exceeded the 90th percentile of body mass index (BMI) in a national representativestudy in 2010 (Ma et al., 2012

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