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The Link between Nutrition, Physical Activity and Academic Achievement

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Inhaltsangabe:Abstract: It has been documented that children from all socioeconomic backgrounds are at risk for poor nutrition and lack of physical activity (PA). On one hand, many children from low-income families are not getting enough to eat each day due to a lack of resources. On the other hand, children from middle and upper income levels consume enough food, but their diets are high in fat, sugar, and sodium, and they do not participate in PA. As a result of this combination, many children today face an increased risk for under-nutrition, obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Finally, educators and health professionals agree that poor diet, eating habits and lack of PA, also affect academic performance. The fact that a hungry child cannot learn has been documented in numerous studies. Indeed, this research has found that even moderate under-nutrition and an immense lack of PA can have lasting effects on children's ability to learn and school performance. Undernourished and untrained children tend to attain lower scores on standardised tests, are more likely to become sick, miss school, and to fall behind in class. Also, hungry children have low energy, are more irritable, and have difficulty concentrating, which interferes with learning. Therefore, school feeding and PA programs were established by several schools and public and private organizations to provide proper nourishment and the possibility of practicing PA. In addition it helps preventing the negative effects of hunger and malnutrition. The School Breakfast Programs was established as a pilot project in 1966 in response to the needs of children arriving at school without having eaten breakfast. Now permanent, breakfast programs help states provide daily breakfast to millions of students in thousands of schools. The positive impact of this program cannot be underestimated. Not only do many teachers report that students are more alert and perform better in class after eating a nutritious breakfast, but published studies also found that breakfast programs are associated with significant improvements in academic functioning among school children. PA programs can substantially improve children’s ability to learn and their state of health by making PA a part of their daily lives. Being physically active early in life has many physical, social, and emotional benefits and can lead to a reduced incidence of chronic diseases in adulthood. In addition teachers report [...]