So what should be done? "We should be doing more than simply looking at blood pressure when children visit the doctor," Convit said. "We should be looking at a wide range of health measures, and looking out for how these kids' brains are working. And parents should be made aware that lifestyle changes at home, where it really needs to begin, may be critical to keeping their kids healthy and ensuring that they can perform to their potential."
Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, agreed that "this study just further supports the need to find ways to prevent childhood obesity in the first place."
She noted that "a lot of this does start at home. Pediatricians need to work to encourage parents to help their children adopt good diets and nutritional patterns and activity patterns, so they can stay lean and physically fit. Because the problems kids experience from being overweight or obese aren't just about looks or self-esteem. And they're not just about heart disease issues that can develop 20 or 30 years from now. We're talking about cognitive ability impairment that can affect school performance pretty immediately. It's a here-and-now problem that needs to be tackled head on."
While the study found an association between poor test scores and metabolic syndrome in kids, it didn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
For more on metabolic syndrome, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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