Although obese students are more likely to exhibit the symptoms of depression than their slimmer counterparts and often do poorly in school, it is not clear whether these associations are spurious or causal in nature. Drawing on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we use an instrumental variables (IV) approach to distinguish between these hypotheses. IV estimates suggest that body weight leads to decreased self-esteem and increased depressive symptomatology among female, but not male, respondents. In addition, we find that body weight is negatively related to female academic achievement. Finally, we explore the degree to which the relationship between body weight and female academic achievement is explained by psychological wellbeing. We find that psychological wellbeing accounts for up to 30 % of this relationship.

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