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Did You Know?

Evidence on dietary behaviors and academic achievement 

  • 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.
  • Lack of adequate consumption of specific foods, such as fruits, vegetables, or dairy products, is associated with lower grades among students.
  • Deficits of specific nutrients (i.e., vitamins A, B6, B12, C, folate, iron, zinc, and calcium) are associated with lower grades and higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness 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

Evidence on physical activity and academic achievement

  • 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).
  • Higher physical activity and physical fitness levels are associated with improved cognitive performance (e.g., concentration, memory) among students.
  • More participation in physical education class has been associated with better grades, standardized test scores, and classroom behavior (e.g., on-task behavior) among students.
  • Increased time spent for physical education does not negatively affect students’ academic achievement. 
  • Time spent in recess has been shown to positively affect students’ cognitive performance (e.g., attention, concentration) and classroom behaviors (e.g., not misbehaving).
  • Brief classroom physical activity breaks (i.e., 5-10 minutes) are associated with improved cognitive performance (e.g., attention, concentration), classroom behavior (e.g., on-task behavior), and educational outcomes (e.g., standardized test scores, reading literacy scores, math fluency scores) among students.
  • Participation in extracurricular physical activities such as interscholastic sports has been associated with higher grade point averages (GPAs), lower drop-out rates, and fewer disciplinary problems among students.


*Data courtesy of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention