Previous studies have found that obesity could influence academic performance. The aim of this study was to systematically review the scientific evidence on the association between obesity and academic performance in school children. A systematic review of English articles was undertaken by using databases PubMed/Medline, ERIC, LILACS, SciELO and Web of Science. Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies examining the association between obesity and academic performance in children and adolescents, published between January 1990 and December 2016, were included. Risk of bias was assessed by using Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology. Thirty-four studies (23 cross-sectional and 11 longitudinal) matched all inclusion criteria and were included. Seven studies were classified as low risk of bias, 23 as medium risk and four as high risk. After controlling for covariates such as socio-economic status, parental education and physical activity, the association between obesity and academic performance becomes uncertain for most of the studies (55.9%). Therefore, at present, there is insufficient evidence to support a direct link between obesity and poor academic performance in school age children. In order to clarify this issue, we need more longitudinal studies with adequate sample sizes and that control for potential confounders.