Researchers from the University of Chicago have found that obesity, sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and cognitive processing are all interlinked among elementary school children. This interdependence is important as the brain is still growing in that period. Obesity may amplify these relationships and have negative effects on cognitive performance. This study highlights the importance of losing weight.
351 school children in Louisville, Kentucky were part of the study. They underwent neurocognitive testing with the Differential Abilities Scale following an overnight polysomnogram (sleep study). SDB was measured with the obstructive apnea/hypopnea index (AHI) i.e. the number of apnea and hypopneas per hour of total sleep time. Anthropometric measurements included body mass index (BMI). Study author Spruyt said, "SDB amplified the risk of adverse cognitive and weight outcomes, while weight amplified the risk of SDB and adverse cognitive outcomes. Impaired cognitive functioning was associated with an increased risk of adverse weight outcomes and SDB."
This study will be published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.