Health-Related Behaviors and Academic Achievement Among High School Students

CDC’s September 7, 2017 issue of The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report confirms that high school students reporting lower academic grades also report great health risk behaviors. In addition, data from the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) show that students with higher grades are less likely to participate in certain risk behaviors. While results do not prove a causal link, students who reported engaging in unhealthy behaviors struggle academically.

Summary

What is already known about this topic?

Studies have shown links between health-related behaviors and educational outcomes such as grades, test scores, and other measures of academic achievement; however, many of these studies have used samples that are not nationally representative or are out of date.

What is added by this report?

Analyses of nationwide 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data (controlling for sex, race/ethnicity, and grade in school) reveal that high school students who received mostly A’s, mostly B’s, or mostly C’s had significantly higher prevalence estimates for most protective health-related behaviors and significantly lower prevalence estimates for most health-related risk behaviors compared with students with mostly D’s/F’s.

What are the implications for public health practice?

School health interventions can promote positive health behaviors and improve both health and academic outcomes for students. Evidence suggests that educational and public health institutions have a shared interest in promoting student health and that collaborative efforts have the potential to make important strides in improving the health and academic achievement of youths.