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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2018, Article ID 3729318, 7 pages
Research Article

School Engagement in Relation to Body Mass Index and School Achievement in a High-School Age Sample

1School of Education and Human Services, Canisius College, 2001 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14208, USA
2Department of Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology, University at Buffalo–State University of New York, 420 Baldy Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-1000, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Kristin E. Finn; ude.suisinac@knnif

Received 24 January 2018; Revised 15 June 2018; Accepted 2 August 2018; Published 1 October 2018

Academic Editor: Michele D. Levine

Copyright © 2018 Kristin E. Finn et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Purpose. Research has documented an inverse relationship between body mass index (BMI) and school achievement but has failed to empirically explain it. We tested whether this association among adolescents can be explained in part by student engagement. Methods. A self-report survey about health and school behaviors was completed by 196 high school students; BMI and achievement data were obtained from school records. Three forms of engagement were assessed: behavioral, presenteeism, and affective. Associations of engagement with BMI and achievement were examined, and mediation analyses were conducted. Results. The simple relationship between BMI and achievement was confirmed and demonstrated that BMI was negatively related to academic achievement. Higher BMI was also significantly correlated with lower classroom participation. Mediation tests showed the significant relationship between BMI and achievement was reduced after accounting for behavioral engagement but not affective engagement. Conclusions. These novel findings shed light on why heavier students often experience lower academic achievement. Intervention studies targeting barriers to classroom engagement among overweight and obese youth are needed so that their academic potential is not compromised.