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Health and academics go hand-in-hand

Study after study shows students’ school success is strongly linked with their health – and November is Healthy Lifestyles Month.


PTA created Healthy Lifestyles Month because research shows that a healthy child can achieve and learn more.
Healthy Lifestyles Month is a wonderful opportunity for school communities to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that all students show up each day healthy and ready to learn. Learn more from National PTA.


The California Food Policy Advocates have released their newest policy brief, School Breakfast: Reducing Chronic Absenteeism & Supporting Student Success.

Reducing Chronic Absenteeism and Supporting Student Success:

  • School breakfast is linked to an increase in attendance of 1.5 days per student over the course of the school year.
  • Two million low-income children are not reached by school breakfast
  • Reaching our low-income students with school breakfast could result in big attendance gains for the state and would increase district funding to be re-invested back into the classroom.


Rigorous research confirms the clear connection between health, learning and attendance. Healthy children are more successful in school, miss fewer days of school, are more attentive and well-behaved, and are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college. Active and well-nourished children have better attendance, stay in school and are ready to learn. Ensuring your child has a healthy breakfast and plenty of exercise is a great place to start. Oral and general health check-ups are also important.

But health disparities continue to contribute to the achievement gap. Health-related factors such as hunger, abuse and chronic illness can lead to poor school performance. Health-risk behaviors such as early sexual initiation, violence, unhealthy eating, and physical inactivity are consistently linked to poor grades, test scores, and lower educational attainment. Adolescents with poorer general health are less likely to graduate from high school on time or attend college. Chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, obesity and tooth decay affect about 20 to 30 percent of children in California, which leads to more absenteeism and lower school performance.

Leading national education organizations recognize the close relationship between health and education, as well as the need to foster health and wellness within the educational environment for all students.


Scientific reviews document that school-health programs can have positive effects on academic outcomes, as well as health-risk behaviors and health outcomes. What’s more, programs that are primarily designed to improve academic achievement are increasingly recognized as important public-health interventions.

Our schools play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of young people and helping them establish lifelong healthy behaviors. Research also has shown that school health programs can reduce the prevalence of health-risk behaviors among young people and have a positive effect on academic achievement. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyze research findings to develop guidelines and strategies for schools to address health-risk behaviors among students, and create tools to help schools implement these guidelines.

Stay on top of the developments and get involved with our health news alerts, and stay in touch with your local PTA for the latest information on health issues and programs at your school.