-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SATURDAY, Feb. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Eating a healthy
diet, getting enough sleep and being physically fit are important
for students' success in school, a new study suggests.
When students' home and school environments support their
physical health and well-being, they perform better academically,
the researchers found, so programs in and out of the classroom to
promote healthy behavior may be a smart investment.
The study looked at survey results and district test scores of
940 fifth- and sixth-grade students attending 12 randomly selected
schools in New Haven, Conn., a poor and ethnically diverse
Researchers also assessed the students' physical fitness three
to six months before they were tested and again after the scores of
the standardized tests were released.
Students with environments that supported their physical health
were more likely to reach their target scores in reading, writing
and math. They were more than twice as likely to achieve this
academic success than students whose environments supported their
health the least, the investigators found. However, the study did
not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The study, published online recently in the
Journal of School Health, revealed health factors that were
linked to improved test scores in the children, including the
"Many urban families sadly face the harsh challenges of persistent poverty," study lead author Jeannette Ickovics, a professor of epidemiology and psychology at Yale University, said in a Yale news release.
"Health and social disparities, including academic achievement, are increasing," said Ickovics, also director of the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, a research program at the Yale School of Public Health.
"One way to reduce disparities and close the equity gaps in health and education is to coordinate community and family-based efforts with comprehensive school-based approaches," she concluded in the news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
about the link between
health and academic success.
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