Healthy Students are Better Students: Kids, Science Agree

August 08, 2014

“When I grow up I want to be a pilot and fly people all over the world.”

I sat awe-inspired at the GENYOUth Nutrition + Physical Activity Learning Connection Summit, co-hosted by National Dairy Council, as I listened to Tyler, a 5th grader with dyslexia, speak about how he agrees with the learning connection and believes that the Fuel Up to Play 60 program will help him reach his goal.

“Being active helps my brain focus better,” he said. “If I was not able to have brain breaks with physical activity every day I don’t know if I could be here right now.”

Not only do kids agree with the learning connection, but science helps support it too!  

Two years ago during the first Leaning Connection Summit, an extensive amount of science was presented supporting the learning connection. During this year’s event, close to 900 students and thought leaders met to recommit their support for healthy change in America’s schools. Leading experts explored the advancement in the science behind the learning connection. More than 60 studies and more than 15 years of mounting research show that improved nutrition and increased physical activity are associated with improved academic achievement. Key highlights include:

  • Intervention studies found that some children who participated in physical activity achieved significantly higher average academic performance, including improvements in math scores and reading comprehension.(1)
  • Healthy students are better students. Research shows that students who eat breakfast before school may have improved concentration, attention span and memory and score 17.5% higher on standardized test scores.(1)

Dr. Sarah Lee, Ph.D., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, explained that although the science is still crucial, we have enough evidence. Now we need to be able to translate and communicate it.

“Children are our most precious asset and it is our responsibility to see that they reach their full potential,” explained Dr. Yvonne Maddox, Ph.D., National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, at the National Institutes of Health.

Organizations like GENYOUth FoundationLet’s Move!Fuel Up to Play 60, National Dairy CouncilSHAPE America and National Institute of Health have already shared multiple ways to help enhance nutrition and physical activity.

However, there’s more work to be done. Dr. Jim Hill, Ph.D., Anschutz Health & Wellness Center, conveyed that we still don’t know how to solve childhood obesity. We need to think big, innovate and most importantly, work together to help students thrive. Hopefully, one day we all will hear Tyler’s voice over the loud speaker saying “Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking.”

Help bridge that gap between what you know and what you do. What are you doing to help support the learning connection?


1Presented by third party experts during the GENYOUth Nutrition + Physical Activity Learning Connection Summit