Nutrition and student performance at school

J Sch Health. 2005 Aug;75(6):199-213. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2005.00025.x.


This article reviews research from published studies on the association between nutrition among school-aged children and their performance in school and on tests of cognitive functioning. Each reviewed article is accompanied by a brief description of its research methodology and outcomes. Articles are separated into 4 categories: food insufficiency, iron deficiency and supplementation, deficiency and supplementation of micronutrients, and the importance of breakfast. Research shows that children with iron deficiencies sufficient to cause anemia are at a disadvantage academically. Their cognitive performance seems to improve with iron therapy. A similar association and improvement with therapy is not found with either zinc or iodine deficiency, according to the reviewed articles. There is no evidence that population-wide vitamin and mineral supplementation will lead to improved academic performance. Food insufficiency is a serious problem affecting children's ability to learn, but its relevance to US populations needs to be better understood. Research indicates that school breakfast programs seem to improve attendance rates and decrease tardiness. Among severely undernourished populations, school breakfast programs seem to improve academic performance and cognitive functioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Educational Status*
  • Food Supply*
  • Humans
  • Iodine / deficiency
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Iron, Dietary
  • Malnutrition / physiopathology*
  • Schools*
  • Zinc / deficiency


  • Iron, Dietary
  • Iodine
  • Zinc