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THE LEARNING CONNECTION: The Value of Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity in Our Schools


... 40 national organizations representing education, health, fitness and nutrition ... Increasing health, physical & nutrition education ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: THE LEARNING CONNECTION: The Value of Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity in Our Schools

Nutrition and Physical Activity in Our Schools
  • Presented by
  • Presenters
  • Presenters Title
  • Washington Action For Healthy Kids
  • Date

Overview of the Problem
  • The majority of American youth are sedentary and
    do not eat well.
  • These unhealthy practices lead to health and
    learning problems.
  • It is critical to bring to our attention that
    there are costs to poor nutrition and physical
    inactivity….costs on health and, importantly,
    costs to our schools.

The Facts
  • Only 2 of school-aged children consume the
    recommended number of servings from all food
  • More than 80 percent of children and adolescents
    eat too much total fat and 90 percent eat too
    much saturated fat
  • Fewer than one in four American children get 30
    minutes or more of physical activity per dayand
    more than three in four get no more than 20
    minutes of vigorous physical activity per week
  • 9 million school-aged children and adolescents
    are overweight to a degree that directly affects
    their health (16 national average)

Schools Can Make A Difference
  • Some schools practices and policies can
    aggravate students health and can interfere with
    their readiness to learn
  • Evidence suggests that addressing students
    health can help schools to meet performance goals
    and alleviate financial constraints
  • Schools play a critical role in helping students
    and themselves by addressing nutrition and
    physical activity
  • By collaborating with many stakeholders, schools
    can take immediate action that will help to
    address these issues.

Connection to Learning
  • Poor nutrition has a negative impact on learning
  • Undernourished children attain lower scores on
    standardized tests, are more irritable, have
    difficulty concentrating and have less ability to
    resist infection and may miss more school
  • Well nourished students who skip breakfast
    perform worse on tests and have poor
  • Poor nutrition and hunger interfere with
    cognitive function and are associated with lower

Connection to Learning
  • Being physically active has a positive impact
  • One study linked physical activity to stronger
    academic achievement, increased concentration,
    and improved math, reading, and writing scores.
  • Another study found that students participating
    in daily physical education exhibit better
    attendance, a more positive attitude toward
    school, and superior academic performance.
  • Physical activity among adolescents is
    consistently related to higher levels of
    self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety and
    stresseach of which has been associated with
    better academic performance.
  • Moderate physical activity has positive impact on
    immune function…this can help to prevent colds
    and flu.

A More Tenuous Link
  • Evidence of a direct effect of weight on
    achievement is less conclusive, however emerging
    research shows an association.
  • A 2003 JAMA study found that severely overweight
    children and adolescents were 4 times more likely
    than healthy children and adolescents to report
    impaired school functioning
  • A 2004 study of 11,192 kindergartners found that
    overweight children had significantly lower math
    and reading test scores at the beginning of the
    year than did their non-overweight peers, and
    that these lower scores continued into first

Overweight and Learning
  • Associations between weight problems and
    achievement do not imply causation, as there are
    a number of relating factors
  • Underlying cause of overweight -- poor nutrition
    and inactivity -- affect learning
  • Being overweight can impact a students health
    and leads to increased absenteeism
  • Overweight children face more psychological
    problems and studies show these students may be
    victims of bullying or be bullies…this can
    interfere with readiness to learn

Economic Strains on Schools
  • Comprehensive analysis to evaluate the impact of
    poor nutrition, inactivity and increasing number
    of overweight students on schools ability to
    manage within its budget has not been conducted.
  • However, there are subtle and indirect ways that
    these factors are taking an economic toll on our
  • Reduced state funding
  • Indirect/hidden costs

Reduced State Funding
  • In nine states, that collectively serve more than
    one-third of all students in the U.S., state
    funding for schools is determined by the number
    of students that show up for school average
    daily attendance.
  • In these states, a single-day absence by one
    student can cost a school district between 9 -
    20 dollars.
  • This adds up quickly to estimate the potential
    cost of poor nutrition, inactivity and weight
    problems might pose on these districts, The
    Finance Project made projections based on percent
    of American children that are overweight to a
    degree that affects their health (16)

Costs of the Status Quo
  • Current practices and policies include selling
    and promoting low-nutrient, high-calorie foods in
    an attempt to generate revenue
  • Some school practices and policies have cut back
    on physical education, recess and other physical
    activity opportunities to increase classroom time
    as a way to boost achievement
  • These strategies are not proven to meet those
    objectives and, unknowingly, are counterproductive

Nutrition Practices Today
  • Research shows that selling competitive foods can
    drive students to these foods and beverages and
    away from the school meal programs
  • Schools can help their budgets via reimbursements
    from participating in school lunch and breakfast
  • If students are not participating, dollars from
    reimbursement decrease
  • Finances could improve by increasing
    participation in these programs
  • And, studies do indicate children that consumer
    school meal program have better nutrient

Physical Activity Practices
  • The National Association for Sport and Physical
    Educations recommends elementary schools offer
    225 minutes of physical education per week and
    that secondary schools offer 150 minutes per week
  • However, just 8 percent of elementary schools,
    6.4 percent of middle/junior high schools, and
    5.8 percent of senior high schools provide daily
    physical education.
  • Increasingly, schools have reported cutting back
    or not increasing programs to meet these
    recommendations in order to give more class time
    to reading and math

The Bottom Line
  • It is in schools own interest to address these
    issues discussed.
  • Solutions lie in partnerships and collaborations
  • AFHK is dedicated to improving childrens health
    and their readiness to learn through better
    nutrition and physical activity in schools
  • Private public partnership with thousands of
    volunteers on state teams and over 40 national
    organizations representing education, health,
    fitness and nutrition

Our Vision
  • Schools provide an environment that fosters the
    development of lifelong habits of good nutrition
    and physical activity for all children
  • Our aim is to
  • Enhance the learning potential of all children,
  • Slow the rate of increase in overweight and
  • Increase efforts that lead to the prevention of
    overweight and obesity among youth.

Actions Schools Can Take
  • Form a school health advisory council
  • Develop a comprehensive wellness policy
  • Integrate physical activity and nutrition into
    the school day
  • Incorporate nutrition and physical activity into
    after school programs
  • Encourage staff to model healthy lifestyles

  • We must understand this important truth that
    improving childrens health likely improves
    school performance. It may even help a schools
    bottom line.

Actions School Districts Can Take
  • Develop a comprehensive wellness policy for
    schools in your district
  • Develop a district level school health advisory
  • Keep nutrition and physical activity on the
    agenda at your local, district, and state school
  • Contact your AFHK State Team or visit our website
    for resources and to learn more

Actions Individuals Can Take Now!!!!
  • Join your AFHK State Team!!!!
  • Be an advocate for better nutrition and physical
    activity in your local school.
  • Spread the Word!!!!! Dont keep this information
    to yourself. Share this information and
    encourage others to get involved.

Schools Must Be Part of the Solution
  • Why are schools so important?
  • Children and teens spend 2,000 hours each year at
  • Feeding programs are already in place
  • Schools are a great equalizer all children have
    equal access to information about nutrition and
    physical activity
  • Schools have an opportunity to create the type of
    environment that students are being taught in the

AFHK Approach
Establish State and National coalition Private-p
ublic partnerships
Produce programs and projects for state teams
to help schools adopt CTC goals
Assess actions Determine what works, under what
conditions Identify models
Communicate Findings tools Stimulate more
schools to change Recognize successes
This will result in children developing
Positive eating and activity patterns
Healthy schools, healthy children and healthy
Focus on Commitment to Change
  • Serves as framework for planning action
  • Collaboration of multi-discipline group essential
    for success
  • Details specific actions necessary to create
    healthy schools that promote sound nutrition
    physical activity
  • Increasing health, physical nutrition education
  • Increasing physical activity (recess, PE, after
  • Ensuring health promoting foods are available
    throughout the school environment