Studies have shown when schools
         address student nutrition and
           physical activity it leads to
            improved performance on
                    academic tests. 

Exercise and the Brain

  • Research from The Robert Wood Johnson Center indicates that children who are overweight have lower reading and math scores. Evidence suggests that obesity not only poses serious health risks, but also jeopardizes academic achievement.
  • A study by the NIH proven that exercise improves learning on three levels: 1) it optimizes the mind to improve alertness, attention and motivation; 2) it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging new information; 3) it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus, the area of the brain related to memory and learning.
  • A study out of UC Irvine, determined that learning and memory evolves in concert with motor function, which allowed our ancestors to track down food. The findings revealed as far as our brains are concerned, if we’re not moving, there’s no real need to learn anything.
  • Research suggests that if you’re in good shape, you are able to learn and function more efficiently. A 2007 study by German scientists found that people learned vocabulary words 20% faster following exercise than they did before exercise and the rate of learning correlated directly with the levels of BDNF, (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF exists in the brain and nourishes neurons like fertilizer to help them grow, suggesting that if you’re in good shape, you may be able to learn and function more efficiently.

The Spirit System and Physical Education

  • Results from the 2008 FITNESSGRAM inspired the development of Spirit System. The statewide results found that approximately 32% of third-grade girls and less than 28% of third-grade boys reached the “Healthy Fitness Zone.” By seventh grade, only 21% of the girls and 17% of the boys still met this basic achievement level. By 12th grade, just 8% of the girls and les than 9% of the boys met the health standards in all six tests.
  • Most states have introduced legislation to reinforce PE requirements by increasing time in classes and moderate to vigorous activity levels (MVPA). Results from studying these increases showed the amount of time states required for PE did not have an effect on weight or risk of obesity. In addition, research with elementary school students showed that children did MVPA for an average of 3.4 minutes of a 40-minute class. About two-thirds of class was spent in sedentary activity; one-quarter of the time was spent doing minimal activity.
  • With the rate of obesity growing fastest among children, researchers suggest targeting children where they spend the majority of their time – in school and with the resources they utilize most, technology. Schools are the primary location for engaging children, and they provide the best possible learning environment and opportunity to instill positive changes in their choices. The earlier a child/student can be engaged in learning during their formative years, the better the chance they have to succeed. Therefore, schools are a logical entry point for building the foundation of health.

Children and Technology

  • Data from seven recent studies indicate that young children are increasingly consuming all types of digital media, in many cases consuming more than one type at once. Nearly 80% of children between the ages of 0 and 5 use the Internet on at least a weekly basis in the United States, according to a report from education organizations Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Sesame Workshop.
  • An major issue we face is not a lack of programs, but a lack of information from those programs properly getting to the end user.
  • Technology enhances learning, teaching and communication and has the ability to scale rapidly and cost effectively. It is far more efficient and productive than in humans. The reason is simple: there are no emotions in technology, no hidden agendas. Information is objective not subjective and the way the information is presented can shape an individual’s thought process for the betterment of their lives.
  • The world is becoming smaller with the internet and the two undeniable trends worldwide are that everything is going wireless & digital. It is the “language” children speak and will only increase in use in the future.

Childhood Obesity

  • Demographer, Carl Eschbach projected 42.6%, or triple the current number, of the nations adult population will be obese by 2040. Knowing that the adults of 2040 are the children of today, Eschbach warned that “the consequences, if we don’t do anything, are going to be profound.” Texas State Senator Jane Nelson added “This is the single most serious threat we face as a nation.”
  • 80% of parents feel they are responsible for their child’s weight and physical fitness. So why the disconnect between intentions and results? Parents need to be engaged, empowered and educated in a simple way.
  • Obese Americans are responsible for a $40 billion jump in annual medical spending over the past decade. Annual costs associated with obesity are estimated at $147 billion and growing nearly 9% a year. Annual overall healthcare costs are estimated at 2.8 trillion in 2012. 60% of bankruptcies in 2010 were attributed to medical costs.
  • A child who is overweight at 12 has a 85% chance of being overweight as an adult and are in danger of a wide array of serious medical issues, including threatening to shorten their life span, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancers.
  • Individuals in supportive environments perceive healthy behaviors as the acceptable norm thereby reinforcing healthy choices in all day-to-day interactions.