How healthy food improves student outcomes

How healthy food improves student outcomes

The learning outcomes and mental health of Victorian students is being challenged by sobering statistics around healthy eating and nutrition.

According to the Department of Education’s VCAMS data (2018), Victorian students are getting 40% of their daily energy intake from ‘junk foods’ such as cakes, fast food, confectionary, and sugary drinks, with only 10% of students eating their recommended intake of fruit and vegetables.

Margaret Rozman, accredited practising dietitian and manager of the Healthy Eating Advisory Service at Nutrition Australia Vic Division said supporting students to improve what they eat can lead to improvements in their mental health.

“Attitudes, education behaviour, cognitive skills, and academic performance are all accomplished better by healthy students,” Rozman said.

“Research shows that if you eat less junk, you feel better. By simply replacing junk food with core foods, low mood can be alleviated.”

Rozman said best results are found by decreasing junk food such as chips and lollies, at the same time as increasing core foods like fruit, vegetables, and wholegrains.

Evidence has found that healthy eating helps children and adolescents by improving self-esteem and body image, helping them to more effectively handle their emotions, get a good night’s sleep, and cope better with stress.

All of which lead to better learning, says Rozman. Margaret Rozman will explore the latest research on the connection between food and mood in education at the National Education Summit opening in Melbourne at the end of August.

The free session presented by Nutrition Australia Vic Division will be held on Saturday 31 August 2019, and will discuss the strong evidence around the effects of healthy eating on student learning, mental health and overall wellbeing along with best practice strategies schools and educators can easily implement to support healthy eating in their classrooms and school communities.

The session will also cover the free support programs available to help schools improve student learning outcomes by prioritising healthy eating.

Nutrition Australia Vic division will also share resources and advice on promoting healthy eating in schools at The Education Show, the official exhibition of the National Education Summit.

“Schools can work towards improving learning outcomes and mental wellbeing by planning healthy eating activities across the whole school environment,” Rozman said.

“This can be done by providing a healthy menu in line with the Victorian Schools Canteen and Other School Food Services Policy, having water freely available across the school, creating a school vegetable garden and planning cooking activities with the produce you’ve grown, and/or use the produce in your healthy canteen, encourage school staff to be positive role models, use great non-food rewards in the classroom, and connecting with your local community (i.e. local food markets or food growers),” Rozman said.

Visit the Nutrition Australia Vic division stand at The Education Show to meet their friendly staff, go into the draw to win 1 of 10 giveaways and find out more about their range of resources on many topics including how to support a healthy menu in the classroom, healthy school celebration ideas and information on how to promote healthy eating through a whole of school approach.

The Education Show is a key event of The National Education Summit, an innovative professional development event for principals, school leaders and educators from K-12 on Friday 30 August and Saturday 31 August 2019.

Held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Show features 100+ exhibitors showcasing the latest cutting-edge learning and teaching resources along with programs, support services and technology to educators from across Australia.

Visitors can also attend the Free Education Program, as well as the Free Spotlight Stage where exhibitors will provide in depth information about their service, program or resource.