Open thread: Cold, hard numbers… the research

“Numbers do not lie,” as Mr. Q likes to say, “but you can manipulate statistics.” I’m looking for research articles, statistics and investigative reports linking any of the following:

1) School lunches as it relates to academic performance, childhood obesity, and physical fitness
2) Physical fitness related to academic performance
3) Childhood obesity related to academic performance
4) Salad bar research
5) Research on sugar, fat, and fiber and what it does for people (children if possible)

Where’s the proof? I want a smoking gun.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

16 thoughts on “Open thread: Cold, hard numbers… the research

  1. The first book I suggest you read is Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories." There you will find that there actually is very little real "science" in the field of nutrition, and lots of politics. Grant giving for research is heavily tilted toward reinforcing politically popular notions, rather applying actual scientific methods. I would not put much weight in most "studies" you might turn up in the areas you've outlined. Americans have become obsessed with studies, and simply discarded hundreds of years worth of collective experience and common sense.

  2. Not much focusing on just lunch, the literature seems to be populated with either school-served breakfast or the entire nutritional intake of the child.

    Diet, Breakfast, and Academic Performance in Children –

    Academic performance of Korean children is associated with dietary behaviours and physical status –

    Relation of Academic Performance to Physical Activity and Fitness in Children –

    Nutrition and Student Performance at School –

    Physical fitness and academic achievement –

    Childhood Overweight and Academic Performance: National Study of Kindergartners and First-Graders –

    (Oh fun! A RAND study! Hate these people.) Junk Food in Schools and Childhood Obesity: Much Ado About Nothing? –

    A school salad bar increases frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption among children living in low-income households – (Just FYI, there's similar studies which say the opposite…if you have login credentials at Elsevier I can send you more studies)

    Sugar and fat studies are both loaded with more politics than science. Too messy to find anything that's not related to either anti-sugar/fat groups or the sugar/fat industry in some way (usually funding). So I'll leave that for someone else.

    Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health implications of dietary fiber –

    Think I hit all your points. Hope these help.

    Hope those help. If after reading those you'd like more DM me.

  3. As always, you should evaluate any study's methods for soundness and bias. That said, I suggest you take a look at the work of John J. Ratey and Eric Hagerman. They wrote a book called "Spark" that discusses the impact of exercise on the brain. I particularly recommend the chapters on Learning and Attention Deficit. You can also get more information at Dr. Ratey's website:

    There are reports and studies on schools that have implemented morning Yoga programs and movement based video games such as Dance Dance Revolution. You should also consider looking into the impact movement has on learning and retention in the classroom. Thank you for bringing awareness to these topics. They are important!

  4. Here's some information you might find interesting:

    The International Food Information Council Foundation put out an interesting study looking at the effect of breakfast on children, including information about school breakfast and academic performance –

    The Journal of Child Nutrition and Management is an academic journal that publishes studies about the school nutrition programs. It's free and you find past issues of it through the follow link:

  5. Mrs. Q, you're doing a noble thing! While school lunches in my youth weren't particularly nutritious, they have certainly gotten worse in the years (decades!) since then. I admire your determination and activism.

    May I contact your anonymous self about doing a guest post?

    Deborah Adams

  6. i actually think that in my country, any sort of fat, sugar, preservative laden food would be very much welcomed by the majority of children in schools, and would increase student performance, learning and physical fitness. feeding programs have been used in various developing countries to encourage school attendance, decrease anemia and other nutrition deficit. much of the feeding program is of course natural cooked food, and not preservative laden, and we would probably need more money to feed children with preservative laden food, but i wonder if it would not be more effective to feed children the yucky lunches you featured (the peanut butter sandwich, ugh) if it could be done more cheaply. sort of like the gruel that oliver twist had (plus salt during weekends). it seems that in many countries, sadly, anything is still better than nothing.

    -michael from southeast asia

  7. I've been looking for statistics related to the profits made by school districts selling junk food in their school cafeterias. What I've been able to find is mostly related to selling soda, and while that is interesting I'm really looking for statistics related to food "snacks" sold in vending machines and a la carte or grab and go windows.
    This information seems to be very well-hidden (and vague when I do find it), and when I've asked for it directly I get a lot of runaround!

  8. NASPE, The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (part of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance; or AAHPERD) has some information that might be of interest to you.

    I received this link via e-mail: "Study Shows Major Changes Needed to Support Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in U.S. Elementary Schools." You can download the full reports here:

    Another organization, NASBE, released a similar report as well; the download link appears to be broken:

    As a health educator with membership in the above professional organizations, I get frequent e-mails with links like these. I'll try to pass them all along to you! As someone else suggested, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has a lot of great stuff too.

  9. There is really a lot of beating around the bush when it comes to these subjects. Nobody seems to know anything about them, and when you finally find something it's wavier than the Twizzlers in our school's vending machines.

Comments are closed.