Genetic risk, childhood obesity, and educational achievements


Fan, Maoyong; Jin, Yanhong; & Zhang, Man (2023). Genetic risk, childhood obesity, and educational achievements. Economics of Education Review. vol. 94


We use the genetic risk exclusively related to body mass index as an instrumental variable to examine the causal effects of childhood obesity on educational achievements. We find that childhood obesity decreases high school GPA by 0.92 grade points (33.0%), GPAs of different subjects by 0.72–1.11 grade points (21.7–42.6%), the probability of college enrollment by 0.37, the probability of college completion by 0.65, and years of schooling by 2.19 years (14.8%). Additionally, we explore potential underlying mechanisms through which childhood obesity adversely influences educational outcomes. Our results indicate that childhood obesity does not have a statistically significant influence on cognitive abilities. Nevertheless, it negatively affects educational achievements via health factors (overall health status, health-damaging behaviors, and psychological well-being), school absenteeism and aggression, college aspirations and expectations, and family dynamics. This research provides evidence that childhood obesity can hinder children's educational progress, potentially affecting adult outcomes and exacerbating economic inequality.



Childhood obesity

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Journal Article

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Economics of Education Review


Fan, Maoyong
Jin, Yanhong
Zhang, Man

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