Healthy Students are Better Students, Says Wellness Impact Report

  • Article
  • March 4, 2013

Mornings can be a challenging part of the day. Ensuring everyone is dressed and out the door on time with the right papers in the right folders, the bag packed for soccer practice and the right shoes for gym class can be a tough feat. But we all do it.

Though, sometimes important things are sacrificed to make this process happen – like eating a healthy breakfast. A recent report says only 38 percent of all teens eat breakfast every day. 

A new report gives us a reason to dedicate that extra five minutes in the morning to breakfast. Why?

Better nutrition, starting with breakfast, coupled with increased physical activity helps students reach their potential every day throughout the school year, which can lead to better performance in the classroom. Science supports that breakfast eaters have better attention and memory than breakfast skippers. 

The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success Through Healthy School Environments, released in partnership by GENYOUth Foundation, National Dairy Council, American College of Sports Medicine and the American School Health Association, reinforces the “learning connection” – the crucial link between quality nutrition, physical activity and academic performance. 

For those who don’t have the opportunity to provide breakfast at home, the report also addresses the vital role schools play in helping children develop healthy behaviors through breakfast, physical education (PE) and physical activity programs. With most American students spending more than 2,000 hours at school each year, it makes it the smart place to create an environment that enriches students’ readiness to learn. Starting alternate breakfast programs, such as breakfast in the classroom or after first period, or walking clubs are a few strategies that could be put in place to impact academic performance. 

Approximately 16.6 million children live in food-insecure households — that’s about one in four of our nation’s children who may not have access to nutritious meals or may not know where their next meal is coming from. That is why making healthy school breakfast options available to students is critical, as they help ensure children are properly fueled for the day. Research has shown students who are more active during school perform better on standardized tests for reading, math and spelling. Yet, only 25 percent of high school students are active for the recommended 60 minutes every day. Couple this with the fact that many school districts have simply eliminated recess or physical activity entirely, and there is reason for concern. 

Schools and their students benefit from efforts dedicated to nutrition and physical activity. Proven school wellness programs such as Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60)— a program founded by National Dairy Council and the NFL, in collaboration with USDA — encourage students to take charge by making small, everyday changes towards a healthy lifestyle and provide schools across the country with resources to develop healthy in-school initiatives. FUTP 60 was also a key program recently called out by First Lady Michelle Obama in her initiative to fight childhood obesity, Let’s Move! Active Schools

Focusing on the learning connection can make a difference for academic performance – Fuel Up to Play 60 schools see it every day. Everyone, from community leaders to parents, can work together to achieve improved child health and wellness in schools. In the comment section, share with us how your schools and communities are making a difference. 

To read the full report and get involved, visit