"The kids with MetS [metabolic syndrome] took longer to do tasks, could not read as well and had poorer math scores," lead investigator Dr. Antonio Convit, professor of psychiatry and medicine, said in a press release. "These findings indicate that kids with MetS do not perform well on things that are very relevant to school performance."
Children are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome when they have at least three of five health issues: abdominal obesity, low HDL (good cholesterol), high triglycerides, high blood pressure and pre-diabetic insulin resistance. The syndrome, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease, has risen along with the increase in childhood obesity.
To determine how metabolic syndrome might affect brain development, the researchers compared 49 kids with the syndrome to 62 without the syndrome, balancing the groups according to age, socioeconomic status, gender and ethnicity.