Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

First Advisor

John Bishop, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Abstract

Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Mississippi is the leading state in obesity, and childhood obesity has tripled in the last thirty years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). With schools under pressure to improve academically, coupled with the pressure to show that improvement through high-stakes testing, the amount of time that values the importance of physical activity in school has declined. However, research has shown a decrease in physical activity actually leads to a decrease in reading and math scores and an increase in absenteeism, tardiness, and difficulties in concentration (National Parent Teacher Association, 2013). Simola et al. (2010) found that many students also are not getting the suggested seven to eight hours of sleep recommended. As a result, students are vulnerable to the negative effects of inadequate sleep like frustration, depression, and forgetfulness. Grantham-McGregor and Olney (2006) also examined the role of nutrition for school-aged children and found that poor nutrition in early childhood is linked to poor cognition, school achievement, and behavior later on in childhood with evidence that school meals affect school performances. Children’s physical and mental health impacts their probability for educational success.

Proper nutrition, physical activity, and adequate sleep—these three elements, related to physical health, were used in this study to define “healthy lifestyle” and suggest that all three have a significant relationship with the students’ academic success. The goal of this v study was to observe the relationship between a student’s letter grade in the classroom and health both in school and at home. Data were gathered to compare self-reported health responses with academic grades. The study found that there was no considerable relationship between the sleep habits of a student and their self-reported letter grade, but the majority of students did report that they do not receive quality sleep. The study also found that a significant majority of students who live a healthier lifestyle by eating nutritious foods and participating in physical activity find it easier to maintain a higher grade and thus evidence of more successful academic performance.

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