The Significant Impact of Nutrition on Education



Effects of Nutrition on Education

Effects of Nutrition on Education
Nutrition is one of the most compelling aspects of the development of the human being, especially the children. However, before delving into the areas of food, it is vital to understand the meaning of nutrition. Nutrition is referred to as process concerned with the availability and interaction of nutrients in the body of an organism concerning the organism’s health, disease, reproduction, and growth. The science of nutrition has been a major factor in discussion among experts as the levels of nutrition on the globe dwindle. The continuous growth of processed food coupled with the effects of global warming and the people’s negligence of healthy foods have increased the debate on nutrition. However, most of the discussions on nutrition are centered on the effects of nutrition of the development of children. How nutrition affects the child’s mental, psychological and physical development are the major talking points related or connected with nutrition. Nevertheless, some studies have focused on the effects of nutrition on education. Education is a vital element that can be affected by the physical, psychological and mental development of an individual, all which are affected by nutrition. As such, this paper will explore the how nutrition influences or impacts education.
As mentioned above, education is a vital factor in a child’s development. Elevation of cases related to obesity and food insecurity coupled with the realization that healthy development students are critically related to nutrition have increased the need to understand how nutrition affects education. One of such ways includes a direct impact on school performance by affecting student’s cognition. Studies have indicated that the mental capacity of school children is impacted by ineffective or inadequate nutrition (Jukes, McGuire, Method & Sternberg, 2002). For instance, according to iron deficiency by lacking foods rich in iron can lead to among others, dopamine transmission which subsequently affects cognition. Also, other researchers have indicated that deficiencies in other vitamins like vitamin E and vitamin B lead to inhibited cognitive development which affects concentration, a vital element in education. School-going children require cognitive abilities and mental capabilities that are sufficient to be capable of grasping and understanding all concepts taught. As such, deficiencies in such elements like Zinc and iodine can inhibit the student’s understanding capabilities. Another vital component to nutrition is the excess intake of saturated and trans fats. Availing excess saturated fats in a student’s diet is a recipe for negative cognition and insufficient memory functioning. A study carried out by Asbridge, Florence and Veugelers in 2008 indicated that children with diets containing fewer nutrients perform inadequately in exams (Jukes, 2005). The investigators used a literary test to investigate this concept. Another study examined the effects of eating fast foods on performances of some disciplines and the results illustrated a damning fact. results of the study, eating fast foods impeded the students’ performance in mathematics and reading. Also, performances of students who consistently avoided junk food or fast food was highly enhanced in the subject like science and English. It is vital to note that the effects of nutrients’ deficient foodstuffs were felt significantly in subjects that require more memory and understanding but less in other subjects like mathematics. Such studies and analysis indicate that the mental capabilities of students are significantly impacted by diets low on nutrients. In addition to affecting the physical affecting physical aspects of the body, junk foods also expressively affect the mental aspects.
In addition to affecting education directly, nutrition affects learning indirectly. The indirect impact of nutrition on school performance is highly notable in areas where many students have inefficient diets. Poor nutrition especially in poor and developing countries is an important factor in the education of a child. Poor nutrition often leads to other problems like hunger, stomachaches, and headaches which affect the student’s ability to concentrate or even attend school. Studies have indicated that school absenteeism is a factor that is highly influenced by inadequate nutrition. More often than not, a child without a sufficient nutrition or diet will miss school due to sickness or due to the overall lack of the mental or the physical capabilities to attend (Sternberg, 2014). An individual’s energy levels are affected by the sufficient and balanced intake of glucose, proteins, and carbohydrates. Any insufficient intake of the above-mentioned nutrients will most probably lead to a particular physical or cognitive disability that will impact a student’s school attendance. Indirect impacts of nutrition also lead to growth retardation, a deficiency associated with a low height-for-age. Diets that lack vitamins, iron and proteins among other nutrients are associated with the development of growth retardation. Growth retardation is related to abysmal school performances and degraded mental capacity. Studies have indicated that even mild instances of growth retardation often impact productivity subsequently affecting school performances. Studies have indicated that iodine deficiency is a huge factor in the development of a child’s IQ. According to experts, the average IQ point reduction caused by a deficiency in iodine among school-going children is 13.5. Also, low nutritional levels are not only practical to students attending schools but can also be affected by insufficient nutritional levels by mothers. When a mother does not feed sufficiently, the effects will be low nutrient levels for both the mother and the fetus. Studies have indicated that low birth weight indirectly affects a child’s educational performance later in life. Low birth weight is a factor in 17% of infants born annually (Sternberg, 2014). Such low birth weights have adverse effects on a child’s cognitive performance which culminates in poor performances in the classroom. Also, malnourished or undernourished children have late school enrollment levels. As established earlier, growth retardation affects the child’s growth and development. As such, a child may mentally old enough to attend school but physically unable. Such cases are especially prevalent in poor and underdeveloped countries where parents may choose to invest more in the nourished children impacting the education of the undernourished children. Ample evidence indicates that adult wages and productivity are impacted by mental and physical efficiency which are influenced by educational performances and learning capacity. A study in America indicated that only a single pound difference in birth weight can positively impact lifetime earnings by7%. Such analysis illustrates that nutrition has a negative impact on education.
Another factor that requires consideration when investigating the nutritional impact on education is the consumption of junk food. Junk foods are foods that are devoid of high levels of nutrients but have large amounts of calories through fats or sugars. The use of junk food is a prevalent issue in the United States. The consumption of junk foods has led to high levels of obesity in the US, especially among school-going children. Junk foods have negative impacts on education (Jukes, McGuire, Method & Sternberg, 2002). As indicated above junk foods contain high levels of sugars or fats which as was illustrated earlier have a negative impact on the cognitive development of an individual, which in a student’s case affects education. Junk foods also tend to indirectly impact education by threatening the health of students. Large intakes of junks have been associated with the development of disorders like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Any instance of one of the disorders will require treatment which leads to school absenteeism. Anytime student is absent from school for a prolonged period their educational levels are impacted by falling behind and playing catch up to the lessons missed. Another way is psychological, obesity, a factor that is caused by high junk intakes lead to feelings of low self-esteem. A student affected by obesity or excess weight gain is often shunned and humiliated in school due to his or her size, and this negatively impacts the student’s ability to study or concentrate. Consumption of junk food also alters the brain activity in a manner similar to addictive drugs. However, some junk foods contain nutritional values which can increase a student’s capacity for mental and physical development if taken in sufficient amounts. Also, the introduction of new methodologies of cooking junk foods has increased their effectiveness.
In conclusion, nutrition is a vital factor in development, both physical and mental. The impacts of insufficient nutritional levels on education cannot be understated. It is vital, for the purpose of avoiding all the elements mentioned above to ensure all students’ nutritional levels are at the accepted levels. Through the continued introduction of school programs that highlight the importance of nutrition while providing nutrients, rich food stuff is a positive step that needs to establishd around the globe.

Jukes, M. (2005). The Longterm Impact of preschool health and nutrition and education. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 26(2) 193-200.
Matthew Jukes, Judith McGuire, Frank Method & Robert Sternberg. (2002). Nutrition and Education. Geneva: UNESCO.
Sternberg, M. (2014). Nutrition and Student’s Academic Performance. Minnesota: Wilder Research.

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