Last week I was privileged to attend the Learning Connection Summit, a follow-up summit to a report that former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher released in 2004. This summit, which was chaired by Dr. Satcher and Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth Foundation, provided an update on the science of food, learning, activity and weight.
Researchers discussed how students who go to school without breakfast fail to learn as well as those who have breakfast. One study presented, showed how brain activity varied in kids who had breakfast before school versus those who did not. Brain scans showed a clear difference in brain activity in those who had breakfast before going into the classroom.
Another session looked at the benefit of physical activity to learning. Researchers looked at students who had some type of physical activity – either a physical education class, recess or even activity integrated into other classes. Results showed that those who had some type of activity during the day paid attention better than students who were forced to sit for most of the day.
One session that was popular for most attendees was a panel of student ambassadors for the “Fuel Up to Play” program. The students discussed how they worked in their schools to organize walking programs, taste test programs for new food options and several other innovative programs they instituted to increase activity and nutrition. The students also participated in a taste test of a yogurt and fruit smoothie by preparing the smoothie before enjoying it.
The Learning Connection Summit kicked off with an activity program that included several stations where attendees could get moving. Stations included xbox 360 Kinect, Nike’s fast step program and two stations that had current and former NFL players challenging attendees.
In one station attendees could catch a football thrown by Kurt Warner, London Fletcher, Ray Rice or Darrell Green. The other station was a variation of dodge ball. The goal of the evening event was to show how activity can be fun.
The overall goal of the summit was to motivate attendees to go home and begin to make changes within their communities by taking a pledge to move more and make better food choices. In this spirit – how much activity do you get in one week? Are you eating more plant foods than animal foods? Do you know whether the portions you choose are the right size? Do you head out the door each morning after you’ve had breakfast?
If your answers are not much exercise and no answers to the three questions, then maybe you need to think about pledging to learn more to improve your overall health.