A report on the Schools for Healthy Lifestyles program indicates students not only eat better and exercise more, but they do better on standardized testing.
Schools for Healthy Lifestyles, a nonprofit organization started in 1997, works in 52 Oklahoma elementary schools to promote physical fitness, good nutrition, prevention of tobacco use, safety and injury prevention and good oral health.
The report looked at 6,000 students in grades 4 and 5 and was prepared by Steven Sternlof, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. It was presented Wednesday at a Schools for Healthy Lifestyles event.
The most striking results were the impact of healthy choices on academics, Sternlof said.
"The results were incredible, revealing that when students had a culture of health in their school, they performed better academically,” Sternlof said.
"This was true not only for larger districts like Oklahoma City and Edmond, but smaller communities such as Kingfisher and Yukon.”
On average, Academic Performance Index scores for Schools for Healthy Lifestyles locations increased 22 percent over a 3-year period, compared to only 6 percent for demographically similar schools not participating in the lifestyles program.
Strong minds, bodies
State schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett said the report confirms the link between strong minds and strong bodies.