Health and Academics

Working on a Group Assignment Together
Download the Health and Academics fact sheets.

Healthy students are better learners, and academic achievement bears a lifetime of benefits for health. Recent research illustrates that higher academic grades are associated with more positive individual and cumulative health behaviors among high school students. However, youth risk behaviors, such as physical inactivity, unhealthy dietary behaviors, tobacco use, alcohol use, and other drug use are consistently linked to poor grades and test scores and lower educational attainment.1

School programs can use the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model to promote positive health behaviors and lessen negative health behaviors. Looking beyond the classroom and into community organizations and other public or private partnerships can also reduce inequalities in educational achievement and health outcomes.9

School programs that account for the individual, family, school, and community can positively influence both student health behaviors and learning.2,3 Evidence-based, effectively coordinated, and strategically planned school health programs and services are also necessary for closing the academic achievement gap and promoting health equity.4, 10

Making the Connection: Research on Health and Academics

Research shows a strong connection between healthy behaviors and academic achievement (e.g., grades, standardized tests, graduation rates, attendance).5-10 Data from the 2019 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) illustrate the prevalence of health behaviors among children and adolescents that can have a significant impact on learning and a lifetime of healthier living.

2019 YRBS Fact Sheets

Explore the 2019 YRBS questions, tables, and graphs here.