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Nutrition education improves academic performance
Since the 1970s, the percentage of overweight children has tripled and continues to rise. At the same time, schools are under increased pressure to show improved academic performance in subjects such as math and language arts. The California Board of Education established content standards for each grade level for most subjects and academic performance is evaluated through standardized testing. The results determine the school’s Academic Performance Index. EatFit is a curriculum designed to improve the eating and physical activity habits of 11- to 14-year-old students. The program includes nine lessons with an online assessment (www.eatfit.net) and uses guided goal setting to help students make positive behavior changes. Students apply math concepts in EatFit -- such as rate, percentage, average and mathematical reasoning -- while learning how to improve their food choices and increase physical activity. They also learn to analyze and evaluate advertisements, improving their language arts skills. Previous studies using the curriculum have demonstrated the effectiveness of EatFit in changing eating and activity habits. While EatFit and most other UC ANR nutrition education curricula are aligned with the California content standards for math and language arts, testing whether teaching a curriculum aligned with the standards actually results in increased test scores had not been done. Can the need for nutrition education and academic performance be met simultaneously?

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