The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new data that further solidifies the connection between student health and academic performance. As millions of students across the nation head back to school, it is important to understand that the academic success of America’s youth is strongly linked with their health.
The data published in this recent issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report confirm that regardless of sex, race/ethnicity or grade-level, high school students reporting lower academic achievement also reported greater health risk behaviors associated with substance use, violence, sex, and emotional health.
The analysis of reported academic grades and student health risks uses information from CDC’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. While the results do not address causality, they confirm that across nearly 30 health behaviors, students with lower grades reported higher levels of health risk behaviors or negative outcomes. On the other hand, students who reported positive academic outcomes were more likely to report healthy behaviors. Examples include:
- Students who reported receiving mostly Ds/Fs, were more than nine times more likely than students who received mostly As to have reported having ever injecting any illegal drugs.
- Students who received mostly Ds/Fs were more than four times more likely than students who received mostly As to report that they had four or more sexual partners.
- In addition, students who reported receiving mostly Ds/Fs, were five times more likely than students who received mostly As to have reported that they did not go to school at least one day in the past month because of safety concerns.
Schools are a key setting for improving student health. Given the amount of time students spend in the classroom, the strong connection between health and academic success underscores the importance of supporting health education as a critical component of academic preparation, and not something at odds with instructional time. School environments that help students feel safe, supported and connected to important adults protects them from health and behavioral risks.
Review the MMWR and help spread the word about the connection between health and academics.