Children with obesity achieve lower educational level compared with normal-weight peers. Parental socioeconomic status (SES) impacts both a child’s academic achievement and risk of obesity. The degree to which the association between obesity and education depends on parental SES is unclear. Therefore, the primary aim is to investigate if individuals with obesity in childhood are less likely to complete ≥12 years of schooling, independently of parental SES. The secondary aim is to study how weight loss, level of education and parental SES are associated.
Nationwide prospective cohort study.
Swedish national register data.
Children aged 10-17 years, recorded in the Swedish Childhood Obesity Treatment Register, and aged 20 years or older at follow-up were included (n=3942). A comparison group was matched by sex, year of birth and living area (n=18 728). Parental SES was based on maternal and paternal level of education, income and occupational status.
Completion of ≥12 years of schooling was analysed with conditional logistic regression, and adjusted for group, migration background, attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity, anxiety/depression and parental SES.
Among those with obesity in childhood, 56.7% completed ≥12 school years compared with 74.4% in the comparison group (p<0.0001). High parental SES compared with low SES was strongly associated with attained level of education in both children with and without obesity, adjusted OR (OR) (99% CI)=5.40 (4.45 to 6.55). However, obesity in childhood remains a strong risk factor of not completing ≥12 school years, independently of parental SES, OR=0.57 (0.51 to 0.63). Successful obesity treatment increased the odds of completing ≥12 years in school even when taking parental SES into account, OR=1.34 (1.04 to 1.72).
Individuals with obesity in childhood have lower odds of completing ≥12 school years, independently of parental SES. Optimised obesity treatment may improve school results in this group.

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