While teachers are well aware of the effect of nutrition on children's health, they are less aware of the relationship of diet to the learning process. An indirect relationship between nutrition and learning exists because food is required to supply energy for learning. Research has shown that a highly nutritional breakfast results in improved student attention in late morning task performance. Poor nutrition reduces the body's capacity to resist disease and infection, and iron-deficient blood is inefficient in transporting oxygen to the cells of the body and brain. A direct relationship between diet and learning has been shown by research indicating that protein-poor diets produce children who are less able to learn, have lower intelligence quotients, and poorer language development. The magnitude of the effects of nutritional deprivation appears to be positively correlated with its duration and severity and the developmental period during which it occurs. Reading teachers should become activists in the field of nutrition education. Among the points of a positive course of action for reading teachers are the following: (1) reading teachers and all educators should develop and enforce nutrition education programs; (2) teachers should stimulate children's awareness of and interest in good nutrition; (3) teachers should work with parents and school authorities to replace candy, sweets, and colas in vending machines with fruits, nuts, milk, and fruit juices; and (4) teachers should be alert to typical food allergy reactions, and bring them to parents' attention, encouraging consultation with their physicians. (HTH)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Parents and Reading Conference (7th, New York, NY, January 8, 1982).