Healthy Eating Promotes Academic Success
Healthy School Meals is the Best Way to Assure ‘No Child is Left Behind’
There’s plenty of talk about closing the achievement gap. Yet, the one effort that can assure that students achieve their full academic potential is to make sure they’ve eaten a good breakfast and have healthy food choices for lunch. However, most school hot lunch programs still cater to the US Agricultural subsidies rather than featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and skim milk. (See School Lunch Survey for more information: )
In order for students to reach their full potential in school, their food choices must first get an “A”. Most school lunch programs still serve meals that are too high in saturated fat and too low in fiber- and nutrient-rich foods even though academic success is directly related to healthy eating, as supported by 3 recently published studies.
Students with a poorly rated diet have been found to perform lower on standardized tests. As might be expected, children attending academically advanced schools and living in wealthier neighborhoods performed better. These findings affirm that diet quality has a direct impact on academic performance, and points to the importance of investing in effective school nutrition programs that have the potential to improve student access to healthy food choices, improved academic performance, and, over the long term, optimal health.
It is clear that school wellness programs are effective in reducing childhood obesity. Furthermore, these studies support the need for broader implementation of nutrition and physical activity curriculum in all schools since the benefits will promote better learners in the near term, and reduce chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and health care costs, in the long-term–All to the good.