Background and aims: Studies in adults and experimental animals suggest an inverse and bidirectional relationship between cognitive abilities and obesity. Clinical studies on cognition and obesity in children are scarce and methodologically heterogeneous. Indeed, various factors related to obesity including diet, physical activity, socioeconomic status and maternal obesity can affect neuropsychological development. We aimed to study the cognitive function in school-age children and assess its relationship to obesity, environmental factors and socioeconomic status.
Methodology: The study population consisted of 108 pregnant women-newborns pairs included in the Girona Prenatal Study cohort (Northeastern Spain). The newborns (50 girls and 58 boys) were followed up at 6 years of age, when a clinical assessment was performed, including clinical variables [weight, height, BMI, body composition (bioelectrical impedance)], environmental factors [dietary, physical activity and sleep habits (questionnaires)], laboratory variables [insulin, HOMA-IR and lipid profile], socioeconomic status [family income and parents’ education level], and cognitive function [NEPSY II, neuropsychological battery - verbal fluency, recent and remote memory, attention, and abstract reasoning].
Results: The cognitive function (score) was negatively associated with children’s endocrine-metabolic parameters (HOMA-IR and triglycerides) (P<0.05) and sedentary behavior (P<0.01) and was positively associated with hours of sleep (P<0.01). Significant associations were also observed with nutritional score (P<0.01); specifically, the consumption of wheat bread, fish, nuts, fruit and vegetables showed positive associations with cognitive function (all P<0.05) while the consumption of ice cream, fruit juice and sugary drinks showed negative associations (all P<0.05). Parents’ education levels and family incomes were positively associated with children's cognitive function (P<0.05). Linear regression analysis including the most significant parameters from the bivariate analysis (HOMA-IR, sedentary behavior, sleep time, nutritional score, parents’ education level and family income) and adjusting for age and sex, showed more hours of sleep were associated with higher cognitive function and that higher HOMA-IR and sedentary behavior were associated with lower cognitive function (all P≤0.05, R2 model=30%).
Conclusions: Our results suggested that sleep time, the endocrine-metabolic profile and the physical activity were related to cognitive function in school-age children. Given the inverse and bidirectional relationship between cognitive abilities and obesity, the control of the parameters herein identified could be useful in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity and in the improvement of cognitive function in these children.
15 Sep 2022 - 17 Sep 2022