Do health and education agencies in the United States share responsibility for academic achievement and health? A review of 25 years of evidence about the relationship of adolescents' academic achievement and health behaviors

J Adolesc Health. 2013 May;52(5):523-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.01.008. Epub 2013 Mar 25.


Purpose: The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors health-risk behaviors of adolescents in United States, which include (1) violence; (2) tobacco use; (3) alcohol and other drug use; (4) sexual behaviors contributing to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; (5) inadequate physical activity; and (6) unhealthy dietary behaviors. We reviewed original research published in peer-reviewed journals between 1985 and 2010 to synthesize evidence about the association of adolescent health-risk behaviors and academic achievement.

Methods: Using predetermined selection criteria, 122 articles were included that used at least one variable for health-risk behaviors and also for academic achievement.

Results: For all six health-risk behaviors, 96.6% of the studies reported statistically significant inverse relationships between health-risk behaviors and academic achievement.

Conclusions: With this persuasive evidence about the interrelationship of health-risk behaviors and academic achievement, it is imperative that leaders in education and health act together to make wise investments in our nation's school-age youth that will benefit the entire population. A unified system that addresses both health behavior and academic achievement would have reciprocal and synergistic effects on the health and academic achievement not only of children and adolescents, but also of adults in the United States.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data