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Bridging student health risks and academic achievement through comprehensive school health programs

Abstract: In the National Action Plan for Comprehensive School Health Education, representatives from over 40 health, education, and social service organizations viewed education and health as interdependent systems. Participants concluded that healthy children learn better, and they cautioned that no curriculum can compensate for deficiencies in student health status. While literature confirms the complexity of health issues confronting today's students, schools face enormous pressure to improve academic skills. Local school leaders and stakeholders often remain unconvinced that improving student health represents a means to achieving improved academic outcomes. A rich body of literature confirms a direct link between student health risk behavior and education outcomes, education behaviors, and student attitudes about education. This article summarizes relevant information concerning the health risk behavioral categories of intentional injuries; tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs; dietary, physical activity, and sexual risk behaviors.