Scientific Article
Relationship Between Obesity and Alcohol Use and Educational Outcomes

Sabine Vuik, Marion Devaux and Michele Cecchini
Vuik, S., M. Devaux and M. Cecchini (2019), "Exploring the causal relation between obesity and alcohol use, and educational outcomes", OECD Health Working Papers, No. 109, OECD Publishing, Paris,
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Exploring the Causal Relation Between Obesity and Alcohol Use, and Educational Outcomes

Research Article



Two of the most important health risk factors for children and young adults are obesity and alcohol use. These risk factors are known to affect health and well-being, but may also have an impact on educational outcomes. The objective of this study was to assess a potential causal relationship between obesity or alcohol use, and educational outcomes, in Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


Longitudinal data from cohort studies was used to establish temporal precedence. To ensure the absence of alternative explanations, regression models were adjusted for known confounders; instrumental variables were used to address endogeneity caused by reverse causality and potential unobserved confounders; and fixed effects analyses were used to correct for unobserved time-invariant confounders.


There was an overall trend showing that consuming more alcohol was associated with lower grades, in most countries. In UK, there was a significant negative association between alcohol use and the age at which individuals left full time education. There was also a clear negative relationship between binge alcohol use more than once in two weeks and educational attainment in the UK.

In New Zealand, weekly alcohol consumption was associated with a 0.557 year decrease in the age at which boys left full-time education.

In the United States, the frequency of alcohol use did not appear to be associated with educational attainment for boys. For girls on the other hand, there was a clear negative relation.


The results suggest that the presence of obesity during childhood, as well as alcohol consumption during childhood, can have a negative impact on educational performance and future educational attainment.

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