Study finds many high schoolers skip breakfast, don't get enough physical activity

Study investigates link between nutrition, activity, academic performance

ROSEMONT, Ill. — Sixty-two percent of teenagers say they don't eat breakfast every day of the week, according to a new report released Monday that investigates the link between nutrition, physical activity and academic performance.

The report, "The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success Through Healthy School Environments", was the work of the GENYOUth Foundation, National Dairy Council, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American School Health Association.

"Brain imaging shows that children experience improved cognitive function and higher academic achievement after just 20 minutes of physical activity," University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign neuroscience professor Charles Hillman said. "Combining the many benefits of physical activity with good nutrition habits that support healthy weight can have a powerful impact on a child's potential to learn."

The study also found that people who eat breakfast have better attention and memory that those who skip it. Three-quarters of high school students aren't active for the recommended 60 minutes each day, while those who were more active during school performed better on standardized tests for reading, math and spelling.

"Poor nutrition, inactivity and unhealthy weight not only lead to poor academic achievement in children, but also create hard costs for individuals, schools and society at large," former U.S. surgeon general and current director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute David Satcher said. "These costs include spiraling healthcare expenses, lower productivity and a future workforce unprepared for success. We must find solutions to improve nutrition and physical activity for our society's future well-being, and it must start in our homes and schools." 

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