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Increased body weight is associated with decreased cognitive function in school-aged children. The role of self-efficacy in shaping the connection between children's educational achievement and obesity-related comorbidities has not been examined to date. Evidence of the predictive ability of self-efficacy in children is demonstrated in cognitive tasks, including math achievement scores. This study examined the relationship between self-efficacy and math achievement in normal weight, overweight, and obese children. I hypothesized that overweight and obese children with higher self-efficacy will be less affected in math achievement than otherwise comparable children with lower self-efficacy. I tested this prediction with multilevel growth modeling techniques using the ECLS-K 1998–1999 survey data, a nationally representative sample of children. Increased self-efficacy moderates the link between body weight and children's math achievement by buffering the risks that increased weight status poses to children's cognitive function. My findings indicate that self-efficacy moderates math outcomes in overweight, but not obese, children.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Social Science & Medicine. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Social Science & Medicine, volume 128, in 2015. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.01.007

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