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Does your child have a balanced breakfast, healthy snack and nutritious lunch to get them through their day at school?

3 Ways Nutrition Influences Student Learning Potential and School Performance
Significant research over the last two (+) decades indicates that a students’ diet- with improved nutrition- has the potential to positively influence students’ academic performance and behaviour. 
Though researchers are still working to definitively prove the link, existing data suggests that, with better nutrition, students are better able to learn, students have fewer absences, and students’ behaviour improves, causing fewer disruptions in the classroom.[1]
Improve Nutrition to Increase Brain Function
Several studies show that nutritional status can directly affect mental capacity among school-aged children. For example, iron deficiency, even in early stages, can decrease dopamine transmission, thus negatively impacting thinking and learning.[2] Deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals, specifically thiamine, vitamin E, vitamin B, iodine, and zinc, are shown to inhibit cognitive abilities and mental concentration.[3]  Additionally, amino acid and carbohydrate supplementation can improve perception, intuition, and reasoning.[4] There are also a number of studies showing that improvements in nutrient intake can influence the cognitive ability and intelligence levels of school-aged children.[5]
Provide a Balanced Diet for Better Behaviours and Learning Environments
Good nutrition helps students show up at school prepared to learn. Because improvements in nutrition make students healthier, students are likely to have fewer absences and attend class more frequently.  Studies show that malnutrition leads to behaviour problems[6], and that sugar has a negative impact on child behaviour.[7]  However, these effects can be counteracted when children consume a balanced diet that includes protein, fat, complex carbohydrates and fibre. Thus students will have more time in class, and students will have fewer interruptions in learning over the course of the school year.  Additionally, students’ behaviour may improve and cause fewer disruptions in the classroom, creating a better learning environment for each student in the class.
Promote Diet Quality for Positive School Outcomes
Sociologists and economists have looked more closely at the impact of a student’s diet and nutrition on academic and behavioural outcomes.  Researchers generally find that a higher quality diet is associated with better performance on exams,[8] and that programs focused on increasing students’ health also show modest improvements in students’ academic test scores.[9]  Other studies find that improving the quality of students’ diets leads to students being on task more often, increases math test scores, possibly increases reading test scores, and increases attendance.[10]  Additionally, eliminating the sale of soft drinks in vending machines in schools and replacing them with other drinks had a positive effect on behavioural outcomes such as tardiness and disciplinary referrals.[11]
Every student has the potential to do well in school. Failing to provide good nutrition puts them at risk for missing out on meeting that potential.  However, taking action today to provide healthier choices in schools can help to set students up for a successful future full of possibilities.
So what can you do to help?
Please take the time to prepare (or encourage your son/daughter to prepare) healthy breakfasts, morning tea and lunch to sustain their attention through their school day. Skipping meals results in low energy and impairs attention and concentration.
þ HEALTHY, BALANCED FOODS: Sandwiches, salads, fruits and vegetables, starchy food, protein and dairy, low GI foods, water, are preferable than the easy-to-reach snacks, such as:
x Fatty foods e.g. Potato chips and fast foods, two minute noodles, sugary snacks e.g. chocolates, lollies, sweet biscuits and please avoid fizzy/soft drinks and caffeine/energy drinks.
For more ideas on creating a healthier lunch box, consider chatting to a dietician or nutritionist, your local health food store, or your family’s doctor for ideas or see such websites as:
It is a team effort to assist students to learn and thrive at school. Please help us to help your child/-ren. J