It’s common sense: healthy children are better learners. And as more research surrounding “the learning connection” – the crucial link between quality nutrition, physical activity and academic performance – is done, evidence backing that assertion only continues to mount.
Action for Healthy Kids’ 2013 report, The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids Are Healthy and Ready to Learn, demonstrates that physical activity supports academic achievement and well-nourished kids learn better. It also shows that schools that offer students healthier food and more time to be active are seeing increasing fitness levels, better student behavior and even higher test scores. Simply put, kids who don’t eat nutritiously and enjoy regular physical activity are at an academic disadvantage.
- A recent report titled The Wellness Impact, released by GENYOUth, National Dairy Council, American College of Sports Medicine and the American School Health Association, reinforces the learning connection, illuminating the vital importance of improved nutrition and physical activity in creating a school environment that enriches students’ readiness to learn.
- The relationship has been particularly well-documented when it comes to eating breakfast. A review of 50 studies, which appeared in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of School Health, points to growing research that reveals that skipping breakfast hurts kids’ overall cognitive performance as demonstrated through their levels of alertness, attention, memory, problem-solving and mathematics skills. By contrast, a 2013 analysis shows that, on average, students who eat school breakfast attend 1.5 more days of school per year and score 17.5 percent higher on standardized math tests.