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Effect of nutritional status on cognitive function in adolescents

G V Shashikala, Shashidhar P K, Deepika Ravi.

Background: Adolescents are considered to be the healthiest group among the entire population. However, due to fast food obsession, the nutritional habits of adolescent generation are changing and are unable to meet the increased nutrient requirement per unit body weight. Thus, adolescents are facing weight problems, that is, overweight/normal weight/underweight, but undernourished.

Aims and Objectives: The aims of the study were (1) to assess the nutritional status using anthropometric measurements in the adolescents and (2) to correlate the anthropometric measurements with their cognitive performance.

Materials and Methods: A total of 281 adolescents, height (cm), weight (Kg), and waist circumference (cm) were measured. Using these parameters, the body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-height ratio (WTHR) were calculated. Cognitive function test was carried out using Ravenís Progressive Matrices (RPM). Statistical analysis was done using Pearson correlation coefficient and Fisherís exact type of Chi-square.

Results: The gender and age distribution in the study population were not statistically significant. Gender-wise distribution of the WTHR, the BMI, and the standard RPM of the study population was statistically significant. Relation between BMI, WTHR, and RPM percentiles was not statistically significant, but regardless of the weight status, the scores were between the 25th and 50th percentile.

Conclusion: With fast changing food habits among the adolescents, along with students, parents and teachers must also be made aware of importance of food containing all essential nutrients in optimum amounts for better cognitive functioning of the adolescent brain, and not merely focus on physically visible parameters such as weight and height.

Key words: Adolescents; Body Mass Index; Waist-to-Height Ratio; Ravenís Progressive Matrices; Cognition

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