CDC Health & Academics

Healthy Students Are Better Learners

Stock photo of students

Research shows a strong connection between healthy behaviors and academic achievement (e.g., grades, standardized tests, graduation rates, attendance). Healthy students are better learners, and academic achievement bears a lifetime of benefits for health. However, youth risk behaviors, such as physical inactivity, unhealthy dietary behaviors, tobacco use, alcohol use, and other drug use are consistently linked to poor grades and test scores and lower educational attainment.

Schools are an ideal setting to teach and provide students with opportunities to practice healthy behaviors. School programs can use the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model to promote positive health behaviors and lessen negative health behaviors.

School programs that account for the individual, family, school, and community can positively influence both student health behaviors and learning.8Evidence-based, effectively coordinated, and strategically planned school health programs and services are also necessary for closing the academic achievement gap.

Children Must be Healthy to be Educated and Must be Educated to be Healthy.