Your Middle Schooler's Weight May Be Linked To School Success

Researchers say students who are significantly overweight may not perform as well in school. A study in the medical journal Obesity found that overweight middle school students:

• Had lower reading scores on standardized tests.
• Were more likely to have at least six detentions. Missed more school.
• Had lower scores on physical fitness tests.
• Were less likely to play on sports teams.
One author of the study said that the overweight students may have suffered from low self-esteem. They were unhappy and had poor self-images. As a result, they may have been less likely to come regularly to school. Children with low self-esteem are also less likely to try to get along with their peers and teachers.
You can help your child maintain a healthy weight if you:
• Serve fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.
• Buy fewer (or no) snacks containing high amounts of sugar, fat and salt.
• Encourage drinking of water rather than soda.
• Limit meals at fast-food restaurants. These tend to be high in calories, fat and salt.
• Encourage regular exercise. Middle school students should get about an hour of exercise daily. This can be in the form of 20 minutes, three times a day.
Speak to your child’s doctor if you need more information about ways to encourage a healthy diet and activity level.

Source: Stuart M. Shore and others, “Decreased Scholastic Achievement in Overweight Middle School Students,” Obesity, a Research Journal,

Recognize The Many Milestones Middle Schoolers Will Face

Middle schoolers are still reaching milestones. And the more you’re aware of them, especially the emotional ones, the better you’ll understand where your middle schooler is coming from.
Along with the physical changes of puberty, your middle schooler may be dealing with:

• A need for independence. The p0reteen years are prime time for this particular milestone. So expect your middle schooler to separate a bit from you as she begins figuring out who she is. Yes, she still needs your love and support. But she may be less likely to admit it right now.
• A desire to feel responsible. Your middle schooler may bristle at being “treated like a kid,” Honor her need to feel more grown up. Give her real responsibilities and allow her to make some decisions on her own, such as when to do her homework.
• Waves of self-doubt. Along with more maturity, the preteen years can bring a great deal of insecurity. Help your middle schooler weather these bouts of self-doubt by praising her when she does well and catching her when she stumbles.

Source: “Adolescent Development,”, Reprinted with permission from Copyright © 2009 The Parent Institute