Tuesday, September 12, 2017

CDC Releases New Data on the Link Between Health and Academic Achievement

study published in CDC’s September 8th issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) solidifies significant associations between student health and academic grades. The study confirms that high school students who lack physical activity and inadequate nutrition, also reported lower academic marks.

Using information gathered from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), researchers in CDC’s Healthy Schools investigated the relationships between 10 dietary, physical activity, and sedentary risk behaviors and one measure of academic achievement—self-reported grades in school. The data were representative of 9th through 12th graders in US public and private schools and showed the following:

  • Compared with students who reported lower grades (mostly D’s/F’s), researchers found that students who reported higher grades (mostly A’s) are more likely to:
o   Engage in physical activity for at least 60 minutes per day on 5 or more days.
o   Play on at least one sports team.
                 
                   and less likely to:

o   Watch television for 3 or more hours per day.
o   Play video games or use a computer 3 or more hours per day.

  • Compared with students who reported lower grades (mostly D’s/F’s), researchers found that students who reported higher grades (mostly A’s) are more likely to:
o   Eat breakfast on all 7 days.
o   Eat fruit, eat vegetables, and drink 100% fruit juice one or more times per day.
o   Drink one or more glasses per day of milk.
o   Not drink a can, bottle, or glass of soda or pop.

The study also confirms a teen has a higher risk of substance use, violence, and suicide when earning lower academic grades. Although the results do not prove a causal link between academics and health, they confirm that across nearly all health risk behaviors examined, students who reported engaging in unhealthy behaviors also struggle academically. On the other hand, students who reported engaging in positive health behaviors were more likely to report higher grades.

Promoting Healthier Eating Habits and Physical Activity at School
Given the connection between student health and academic outcomes—as well as the amount of time students spend at school—CDC has identified schools as a key setting for improving health. CDC promotes the use of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model that focuses on a child’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development to improve learning and health in our nation’s schools.

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