2010 - Research

Childhood Obesity, Academic Achievement, and School Expenditures

This study examines whether childhood obesity affects student achievement and whether these effects differ by family income level.

  • Although childhood obesity is a national concern, the issue is even more urgent in West Virginia where obesity rates for fifth graders are near 30 percent.
  • Using a 2003-2007 panel of school district data, the authors find evidence that obesity negatively affects reading proficiency in high poverty districts, but obesity rates have little effect in lower poverty districts.
  • The authors estimate that it would require a substantial increase in instructional education spending to offset the obesity effects on academic achievement in high poverty districts.

Gurley-Calvez, Tami and Higginbotham, Amy. “Childhood Obesity, Academic Achievement, and School Expenditures.” Public Finance Review. 38.5 (2010): 619-646.