From the Field

Health and Academic Achievement

Download PDF

Amid efforts to cut school meal programs and cap Medicaid, the Centers for Disease Control offers a brief that spells out the evidence showing the connection good health and academic achievement.

Among the findings:

  • Student participation in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) School Breakfast Program (SBP) is associated with increased academic grades and standardized test scores, reduced absenteeism, and improved cognitive performance (e.g., memory).
  • Skipping breakfast is associated with decreased cognitive performance (e.g., alertness, attention, memory, processing of complex visual display, problem solving) among students.
  • Hunger due to insufficient food intake is associated with lower grades, higher rates of absenteeism, repeating a grade, and an inability to focus among students.
  • Students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviors (e.g., on-task behavior).
  • Time spent in recess has been shown to positively affect students’ cognitive performance (e.g., attention, concentration) and classroom behaviors (e.g., not misbehaving).