Magazine article USA TODAY

Overweight Students Cost Schools Plenty

Magazine article USA TODAY

Overweight Students Cost Schools Plenty

Article excerpt

The excessive rise in poor nutrition, inactivity, and weight problems is affecting academic achievement adversely and possibly costing schools millions of dollars each year, according to a report issued by Action for Healthy Kids, Chicago.

"The Learning Connection: The Value of Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity in Our Schools" indicates that schools may be losing significant funding each year due to the problems associated with poor nutrition and physical inactivity--the root causes of obesity among American youth.

Current data show:

* Schools with high percentages of students who did not routinely engage in physical activity or eat well had smaller gains in test scores than did other schools.

* Well-nourished students who skip breakfast perform worse on tests and have poor concentration.

* Children not getting adequate nutrients have lower test scores, increased absenteeism, difficulty concentrating, and lower energy levels.

* Physical activity programs are linked to stronger academic achievement, increased concentration, and improved math, reading, and writing test scores.

* Students participating in daily physical education exhibit better attendance, a more positive attitude toward school, and superior academic performance.

"Schools have the unique opportunity--even the responsibility--to teach and model healthful eating and physical activity, both in theory and in practice," stresses David Satcher, former U. …

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