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The Learning Connection: The Value of School Wellness. Nutrition and Academic Achievement. Poorly nourished students tend to score lower on standardized achievement tests Adequate nutrition necessary for optimal cognitive functioning

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nutrition and academic achievement
Nutrition and Academic Achievement
  • Poorly nourished students tend to score lower on standardized achievement tests
  • Adequate nutrition necessary for optimal cognitive functioning
  • Iron deficiency anemia linked to shortened attention span, irritability, fatigue and difficulty concentrating
  • Low protein intake associated with lower achievement scores
hunger and academic achievement
Students who are food insufficient

Have significantly lower math scores

More likely to be hyperactive, absent and tardy than peers not at risk for hunger

Even transient hunger from missing a meal compromises cognitive function and school performance

Hunger and Academic Achievement
breakfast and academic performance
Breakfast and Academic Performance

Eating breakfast is associated with

  • increased test scores
  • daily attendance
  • class participation
  • better classroom behavior
overweight and academic achievement
Overweight and academic achievement

Children with BMI >95%-ile

  • were 4 times more likely to report “impaired school functioning”
  • more likely to have abnormal scores on Child Behavior Checklist
  • lower math and reading scores

than non-overweight peers

for the brain to learn brain cells must bind to one another
For the brain to learn brain cells must bind to one another.

Exercise stimulates this better than any other factor we are aware of at the present time.

brain volume actually increases with regular aerobic exercise
Brain volume actually increases with regular aerobic exercise

Exercise thickens cerebral cortex, increases the number of cells responsible for memory and increases BDNF (Brain Derived Nuerotropic Factor: known as Miracle Gro for the brain).

physical activity improves 7 categories of cognitive function among school aged children
Physical activity improves 7 categories of cognitive function among school aged children
  • Perceptual skills
  • IQ
  • Achievement
  • Verbal tests
  • Mathematics tests
  • Developmental level
  • Academic readiness

(Sibley et al. 2003)

physical activity is also good for psychological health
Physical activity is also good for psychological health
  • Improves attention
  • Improves impulse control
  • Lessens fatigue
  • Improves concentration and focus
  • Improves self esteem
  • Reverses “learned helplessness”
  • Improves mood
  • Reduces anxiety
physical activity can help schools meet academic goals
Physical activity can help schools meet academic goals

“Exercise inhibits impulsivity. Exercise is like taking a little Prozac and a little Adderall.  It increases serotonin, norepinepherine and dopamine (the feel good chemicals).”

~ Dr. John Ratey

physical activity improves 7 categories of cognitive function among school aged children1
Physical activity improves 7 categories of cognitive function among school aged children
  • Perceptual skills
  • IQ
  • Achievement
  • Verbal tests
  • Mathematics tests
  • Developmental level
  • Academic readiness

(Sibley et al. 2003)

fitness improves math and language skills
Fitness improves math and language skills

The more fitness standards  children meet, the better they do in math and language arts (California study).  This is true regardless of gender, race and income. 

fit kids smile more
Fit kids smile more

“Exercise inhibits impulsivity. Exercise is like taking a little Prozac and a little Adderall.  It increases serotonin, norepinepherine and dopamine.”

~ Dr. John Ratey

exercise prepares the learner
Exercise Prepares the Learner
  • Improves attention
  • Improves impulse control
  • Lessens fatigue
  • Improves concentration and focus
  • Improves self esteem
  • Reverses “learned helplessness”
  • Improves mood
  • Reduces anxiety
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Anita Courtney, MS, RD

Chairperson of Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition

anitac@qx.net