Academic performance is a strong predictor of future success including wealth, productivity, and overall health. Understanding factors that affect academic performance in children will help push policies that promote better academic performance, thereby increasing the likelihood of success in adulthood.
Academic success, in childhood and adolescence, has been associated with higher income, increased productivity, and better overall health in adult life. Therefore, understanding all the factors that may impede a child’s academic progress is important. A better understanding will lead to the development of appropriate policies to promote academic success in children, thereby increasing their chances at succeeding as adults.
A recent article, published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, investigated the effects of lifestyle behaviours and body weight status on academic performance. The study included a total of 4,253 students aged 10-11 years (grade 5), from Nova Scotia, Canada. Participants completed a set of questionnaires aimed at assessing dietary lifestyle, physical activity, time spent watching television (screen time), and sleeping behaviours. The authors were also provided with the participant’s grade 6 standardized provincial exam scores in mathematics, reading, and writing, which were used to assess academic performance.
The study found that meeting lifestyle behaviour recommendations was strongly associated with higher academic performances. More precisely, children that met dietary recommendations had better scores in mathematics, reading, and writing. Similarly, children that did not excessively watch television and met sleeping recommendations were associated with a better performance in writing. Interestingly, no association was observed between the child’s body weight status and their academic performance. In conclusion, the study demonstrated that children who meet the lifestyle behaviour recommendations tend to perform better academically. Thus, promoting healthy behaviours in children, like eating a healthy diet, watching less television, and getting enough sleep, are important for academic success.
Written By: Haisam Shah, BSc