Editor's note: This is a guest blog provided by the Western Dairy Association.

We know it’s true.

Healthy behaviors are connected to learning. And the proof is in the brain. New research on how the brain is affected by nutrition and physical activity is strengthening the learning connection argument, as neuroscience is making vividly clear the positive effects of both on students’ academic achievement.

We’re all interested in helping our kids. School leaders, teachers and parents are focused on ensuring students are prepared to do their best. Research shows that regular access to better nutrition — starting with breakfast — coupled with increased opportunities for physical activity may help students reach their potential.

The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments is a new report that summarizes research on the “Learning Connection”— the science-based concept that improved nutrition, including breakfast, coupled with increased physical activity can help lead to better academic performance.

The Wellness Impact ReportFindings from The Wellness Impact suggest:

  • More than half (62%) of all teens say they do not eat breakfast every day of the week.
  • Breakfast eaters have better attention and memory than breakfast skippers.
  • Three-in-four high school students aren’t active for the recommended 60 minutes each day.
  • Students who were more active during school performed better on standardized tests for reading, math and spelling.

Proven school wellness programs such as Fuel Up to Play 60 — a program founded by National Dairy Council and the National Football League (NFL), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture — encourage students to take charge in making small, everyday changes toward a healthy lifestyle at school. Fuel Up to Play 60 has provided schools with more than $10 million in funds to help develop healthy in-school initiatives ranging from breakfast programs to walking clubs.

Schools are an ideal place to promote childhood health and wellness, but they cannot act alone. Everyone from community leaders to parents can work together for improved child health and wellness in schools. To read The Wellness Impact in its entirety, please visit www.westerndairyassociation.org. To learn more about helping your school make sustainable changes through Fuel Up to Play 60, visit www.FuelUpToPlay60.com.

Note: Colorado Action for Healthy Kids is currently offering 10 $500 stipends for interested parents. Contact Stephanie Ekoniak at sekoniak@actionforhealthykids.org for details.

Kids need good nutrition and physical activity every day, not just on test days. Let’s make sure we’re all in the game for them.

Photo: USDA