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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #311961

Research Project: Dietary Guidelines Adherence and Healthy Body Weight Maintenance

Location: Healthy Body Weight Research

Title: Relationship of nutritional risk, Body Mass Index (BMI), and cognitive functioning in preschoolers

item TANDE, DESIREE - University Of North Dakota
item KEHN, ANDRE - University Of North Dakota
item WHIGHAM, LEAH - The Paso Del Norte Institute For Healthy Living
item Roemmich, James

Submitted to: Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2015
Publication Date: 3/28/2015
Citation: Tande, D.L., Kehn, A., Whigham, L.D., Roemmich, J.N. 2015. Relationship of nutritional risk, Body Mass Index (BMI), and cognitive functioning in preschoolers [abstract]. Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. 29:901.17.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Objective: To determine the relationships, if any, between nutritional risk, BMI z-score, and cognitive function in preschoolers. Background: Excessive adipose tissue found in obesity places children at increased health risk. Considerable research has documented that obesity leads to increased risk of acute and chronic diseases but little is known about immediate impacts of obesity on cognitive functioning during early childhood. Research is needed to investigate whether a relationships exists between cognitive function, nutritional risk, and BMI z-scores in preschool-aged children. Methods: Forty-eight children, aged 3 through 5 years, from two preschools completed the study. Guardians of the preschoolers completed the NutriSTEP questionnaire designed to assess nutritional risk and the BRIEF-P Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Preschool Version. Heights and weights were collected to calculate BMI percentiles and z-scores. Children were divided into two groups based on NutriStep scores: (1) low nutritional risk, =20 and (2) nutritional risk, >20. Correlations were used to study relationships and t-tests were used to compare groups. Results: Eleven of 48 children would benefit from dietary intervention based on their NutriSTEP score and seventeen of 41 preschoolers were overweight or obese. NutriSTEP score predicts global executive functioning (r = 0.421, p-value = 0.004) and emergent metacognition (r = 0.339, p-value = 0.02) in preschool children. Increasing nutritional risk is related to increasing problem behavior. Global executive score (p-value = 0.05) and inhibitory self-control score (p-value = 0.04) were greater for children that would benefit from nutrition intervention compared with those at low nutritional risk. Conclusion: Nutritional risk predicts cognitive functioning in preschoolers, but further research is needed to confirm these results. Obesity prevention and treatment interventions that target preschool-aged children could consider nutritional risk and dietary intervention to improve cognitive outcomes. Nutritional intervention may improve cognitive functioning in preschool children.