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Nuts & Bolts

May 9, 2013

The connection between breakfast and academic achievement

(Continued)

Physical activity a factor

But it's not just missing breakfast that causes students to lose focus. Missing recess is a part of it, too.

According to figures released by the National Center for Education Statistics, 7 percent of first-graders and 8 percent of third-graders never had recess.

In addition, 14 percent of first-graders and 15 percent of third graders had recess for only one to 15 minutes a day. And 20 percent of U.S. school systems have decreased recess time by an average of 50 minutes per week.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says teachers shouldn't take away recess for disciplinary reasons, because it's just too important.

"Recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child's development," said the Academy in a statement. "It should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons."

Sara Burie, an Exercise Physiologist at St. Mary's Hospital in Wisconsin says recess might be the only exercise kids are getting these days.

"I think that if you take away that recess, that's all the exercise activity they're going to get, especially with all the technology," she said in an interview with a local news outlet. "Kids especially just don't move anymore."

Cooperative effort

Recently, several organizations including the American Dairy Association Mideast and Ohio Action for Healthy Kids, hosted a statewide summit to discuss the link between nutrition, recess and academic performance.

Among the speakers was Audrey Rowe from the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service. Rowe said the USDA is doing its part to make sure more kids are getting healthy meals at school.

"USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition through healthier school meals and greater access to school breakfast and summer meals," she said. "Through the leadership and hard work of Ohio Action for Healthy Kids, the American Dairy Association Mideast, Children's Hunger Alliance and our other dedicated partners, we are beginning to see progress and improvements in the health of our nation's children, ensuring that America's next generation is healthy, well-nourished and able to achieve great things."

According to a separate 2011 study, 17 million children in the U.S. don't have access to nutritious food, which is one child out of every four.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.

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