248952 Health impacts student achievement: The influence of diet, exercise, and other health promoting factors on standardized mastery tests among middle school students in New Haven, CT

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 9:42 AM

Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, MPH , School of Public Health, Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Jeannette R. Ickovics, PhD , School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Krysta Titel, MPH , Social and Behavioral Sciences, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT
Susan Peters, MSN, PNP, MPH , Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT
Introduction: Previous studies have documented the association of health and student academic achievement. Yet evidence to date is limited and largely focused on a narrow set of risk factors. This study sought out to determine whether health is related to student academic success, measured by Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) performance. Methods: Health surveys and physical measures were collected from 1,094 5th and 6th grade middle school students in the fall of 2009, which were then linked to spring 2010 CMT scores. A “health promoting factor” scale was created from 14 healthy practices at the individual or family level. The student sample was largely minority (41% black, 44% Hispanic) and low-income (70% eligible for federal free lunch program). Results: Students were significantly more likely to perform “at goal” (4 on a 5-point score scale, just above proficient) on all three CMT tests if they were of healthy weight, food secure, ate fewer times at a fast food restaurant, drank less sugar-sweetened beverages, were more physically active, passed all four Presidential Fitness tests, slept better, and reported fewer emotional health symptoms. Regardless of any specific healthy practice, students with 10 or more health promoting factors were over two times more likely to achieve goal on all CMTs, when compared with students with 5 or less healthy factors. Discussion: Results provide evidence that healthier children achieve greater academic success. Student health, defined broadly, should be part of school reform efforts happening across the country, particularly in communities experiencing both health and educational disparities.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe methods for collecting student health behavior, outcomes, and physical measures data in partnership with schools and school district leadership. 2. Highlight specific health disparities and modifiable health behaviors reported by students in this largely low-income, minority study sample. 3. Discuss how school health information can be used to design obesity and chronic disease prevention programs in schools in concert with school reform efforts.

Keywords: School Health, Behavioral Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I helped design data collection and conducted analyses.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.