Over recent years, the research on whether nutrition can affect school performance has been growing.
Nutrition has been shown to affect school performance in a few different ways - improved concentration, improved attendance, and improved grades.
Ultimately, all these things need to happen for a child to get good grades, as well as a strong curriculum, good teachers, and access to educational equipment.
Evidence shows that better nutrition results in better attendance and poorer nutrition will cause poorer behavior. The best chance a child has at increased academic performance is to have regular, healthy food.
There are other factors that affect grades like socio-economic background, teacher-student ratio, and parents’ level of education. But even when accounting for these other influences, studies still found nutrition to play a significant role in school achievement.
Nutritional intervention studies have shown that the children who have the biggest increase in grade improvement from changing their diet, are the ones most at risk - the children who have consistently poor nutrition status and/or low socio-economic background.
These positive results have been found in studies of children from America, Canada, Chile, China, Ethiopia, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and many more.
One study in Iceland found that math and foreign language achievement suffered the most from poor nutrition.
The brain is still developing during childhood and adolescence.
Critical stages of brain growth occur very early in life and nutrition plays a vital role in the brain’s healthy development.
The quality of an infant’s diet will affect their level of intelligence later in life. The better their diet now, the higher their school grades later.
Within just the first 8 years of life, many health factors (such as chance of disease) are determined depending on the child’s nutrition and exposure to infections. Vitamin D and iron are particularly important.
As children start to become teenagers, their brain starts to develop higher cognitive functions like abstract thinking, deductive reasoning and problem solving. All these processes demand high levels of nutrients.
Starting the school day well-fed and nourished will help teenagers keep up with the academic demands of secondary school. Deficiency in nutrients have been shown to directly impact brain function in teenagers.
Schools are helping to improve children’s nutrition.
In 2006 there were major policy changes surrounding school meals. All schools must now adhere to nutrient-based standards and many schools have banned parents from putting fast-foods or high-sugar snacks into packed lunches.
Research into the success of healthy eating school food policies have shown that healthy school dinners directly improve school performance. Kicking off the day with a good breakfast, and not experiencing that mid-afternoon tummy rumble, encourages more positive behaviours at school and participation in classrooms.
Schools provide children with healthy food at lunchtime, but also during extended day care like Breakfast Clubs. These are great times to ensure all children receive the nutrients they need during the school day.
One of the main ways that schools can influence nutritional status is through Breakfast Clubs. Studies have shown that breakfast consumption improves memory, test grades and attendance.
Yet 1 in 7 UK schoolchildren have nothing to eat at breakfast (14%) and a third of those who skip breakfast do not eat or drink anything until lunch time.
If a child arrived to school hungry once a week, they could end up losing over 8 weeks of learning time across their entire period at primary school.
These breakfast clubs are actively combatting child hunger in the UK and ensure the children most at risk are given the same opportunities as others to achieve better school grades.
To find out how the Extended Day module can help your school record Breakfast Club, call us today on 02380 016563 or book your free demo.
Up to a third of children’s daily energy and micronutrient intake is provided by their school lunch - so it plays a big role in deciding the child’s overall diet.
Children who consume school lunches get most of their energy from carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin C and folate - all nutrients we would want a growing child to get lots of. Compared to those with packed lunches who have a higher per cent of energy derived from fat and saturated fat.
Fat and saturated fat are needed, but too much can cause complications. Studies have shown that diets high in fat are less likely to be high in other nutrients. This nutrient imbalance can be harmful to certain processes, like brain development.
In a study by Spence et al (2013), healthy school meals in the UK (in compliance with school food policy standards) were found to have significant improvements on the children’s total diet. The study concluded that healthy school meals may contribute to tackling childhood obesity.
Receiving a nutrient-dense, hot meal that children can eat with friends during lunch is an important part of their school day. Good nutrition is a necessary ingredient to good grades, and school meals can provide this.
To find out how the Dinner Money module can help your school record packed lunches and hot school dinners, call us today on 02380 016563 or book your free demo.
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