Children who are physically active and well-nourished have better memory and perform more efficiently on standardized exams than students who do not follow a balanced diet, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher said Monday on Morning Joe.
A new report by GENYOUth Foundation revealed that healthy students are better students.
"There is an impact on the child's ability to learn," Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth Foundation, said on the show. "The No. 1 impact is if they're nourished and they're physically active. So it has an impact on their academic performance, their behavior, their attendance, bullying, all of these issues that we hear about each day."
More than half of all teenagers don't eat breakfast, according to the report. In addition, three-fourths of high school youth are not physically active for one hour each day.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. There is a push for eating fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods, and for drinking low-fat milk.
“I think those foods will make a difference not only in the obesity epidemic but also in the learning,” Dr. Satcher said.
The first cuts made to education are access to healthy nutrition and physical activity. There must be a push to have more direct resources in the school building, Glick said. Children consume 50% of their calories each day inside the country's schools.
There needs to be a partnership formed where corporate America is brought into the solution with the public sector and takes a business mentality, Glick said.
"We have to be innovative now about how we do the physical activity because we don't have the resources we're told for physical education teachers," Dr. Satcher said.