A Longitudinal Examination of the Link Between Youth Physical Fitness and Academic Achievement

IZA Logo

IZA Research Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 28.07.2009, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Rebecca A. London (Stanford University)


The growing problem of childhood obesity has received much attention lately due to its potential ramifications for children’s health, social, and economic outcomes. In addition, there is a growing body of research that shows a link between academic performance and obesity. Using matched administrative data, we examine the relationship between academic achievement and both body mass index (BMI) and overall physical fitness for students in a California community, longitudinally tracking their performance from fourth to ninth grades. Comparing those who are persistently fit over time to those who are persistently unfit, findings indicate initial disparities in math and English language arts test scores. These disparities continue as students advance, decreasing some in ninth grade. There are weaker effects of changes in fitness trajectories on changes in academic achievement, though there is evidence of a link between improvements or declines in physical fitness and changes in achievement. In our models, overall physical fitness is a better predictor of academic achievement than body mass index.

Download complete paper   
For more information, please contact seminar@iza.org