NUTRITION AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Much research has been conducted to establish a correlation between nutrition and academic performance by school going children. This paper will take a look at such a research conducted by Rita Raush (2013) whose findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition and food science. While the author herself did not conduct a field research, she utilized secondary materials that included several peer review journals. By analyzing multiple articles, she was able to demonstrate the effects of poor nutrition on school going children.
The article begins by exploring the main focus of the peer that is to explore the cognitive functioning of the school going children in relation to dietary food intake and food insufficiency. According to the author, having too much food and having too little good food have negative consequences on children’s cognitive functioning and as such affects their academic progress. She continues to point out that the terms good and bad are used to denote the nutritional value of food as well as chemical concentrations that the food may contain. Lastly, the paper also indicates that there is a correlation between economic status and academic performance since economic status tends to play a key role in determining the kind of food that children have access to
ResultsThe paper is broken down into several topics, which include nutrition and cognitive capabilities, effects of junk food and iron deficiencies and food insecurity and insufficiency.
Nutrition and Cognitive abilities
The author points out that Neurotransmitters transmit chemical messages to the brain to increase function, and each chemical plays vital roles in maximizing neuron capabilities. By examining research by Moerley ( as cited by Raush, 2013 ), The author brings to our attention the fact that the brain requires amino acids which is acquired from dietary intake so that the brain can be able to maintain the necessary amounts of neurons which are responsible for releasing chemical such as serotonin, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals she explains are useful in controlling sleep, memory, appetite, temperature, learning, mood, behavior, attention, heart beat and the nervous system.
Woods (as cited by Raush, 2013) further goes on to point that insufficient levels of zinc affects a child’s ability to memories while Erikson (as cited by Raush) breaks down the five components of food and explains that protein-energy malnutrition leads to poor student performance, lethargy, and it also makes children passive and withdrawn. Erikson further mentions that certain fats are necessary for example Omega 3, which is found in fish, is important in preventing inflammation, improve memory, as well as stave off depression. On top of that, vitamins play a vital role in brain development as well as functioning.
Effects of junk food and Iron deficiency
Raush (2013) describes junk food as a term that is used to denote unhealthy food and goes on to look at a study by Zhang et al(as cited by Raush, 2013) which used a cross-sectional survey to establish amounts of fats in the average American diet which was found to be high in saturated fat and cholesterol and establish a correlation with cognitive functioning. According to the results of the study, consumption of poly saturated fats were linked to decreased academic performance though the report pointed out that there were some major limitations in the study. Wood (As cited by Raush, 2013) on the other hand conducted a 21-week study that followed volunteers who had borderline anemia and established that iron deficiency among children tended to affect their ability to pay attention to information.
Food insecurity and Insufficiency
This part looked at how food insufficiency and insecurity led to low academic performance among children by looking and research studies that were conducted by Zhang et al. and Alaimo et al.
According the author, Zhang et al. (as cited by Raush, 2013) investigated the long-term effects of food insecurity on academic performance, body mass index, weight and height by conducting a longitudinal, as well as cross-sectional study on third grade children. To measure academic performance, the study employed the item response theory. The study established that the stress related to food insecurity leads to increased cortisol levels a chemical associated with depression decreased cognitive functioning and low memory levels.
Research by Ailamo et al. (as cited by Raush 2013) found that children who come from food insecure families were much more likely to miss school and repeat a grade than children from food secure families. The study also established that food insecurity has not only biological effects but also has psychological effects on children which include worry, feeling of deprivation and stress.
The study concludes by affirming that nutrition plays an important role in a child’s academic performance with children who take too little food that has sufficient nutrients and those that take allot of junk food suffering the same consequences. Therefore, it is important to note that it is not only important to ensure that children are provided with enough food to fill their stomachs, but it is important to ensure that the food has high nutritional value. The paper acknowledges that there is a need to conduct further research on the causes of child malnutrition in the United States (Raush, 2013).
I do agree with the author that since there has been allot of research on child malnutrition, there needs to be a more detailed research on the causes of child malnutrition and interventions. So that it can be applied to stem the problem as well as look into whether current interventions like the school food programs are creating the required impacts.
Rausch, R. (2013). Nutrition and Academic Performance in School-
Age Children: The Relation to Obesity and Food Insufficiency. Journal of Nutrition and Food Science.3 (190) Retrieved from http://omicsonline.org/nutrition-and- academic-performance-in-school-age-children-the-relation%20to-obesity-and-food- insufficiency-2155-9600.1000190.pdf