Are Healthy Snacks Linked to Academic Success?


Are Healthy Snacks Linked to Academic Success?

06, November 2018 11:29 AM

Are Healthy Snacks Linked to Academic Success?

While the school year is a very busy time for teachers and parents, spending some time talking about healthful snacks can potentially make a big difference.

Nutrition + Academic Performance Linked

A healthy, balanced eating pattern is linked with academic achievement. In fact,missing food groups and the key nutrients these food groups contain can add up to nutrient shortfalls. Children who don't eat an adequate amount of fruits, vegetables and dairy foods tend to get lower grades than students who meet dietary recommendations for these groups.

Room for Improvement in Kid Snack Choices

Snacks tend to provide about one quarter of the calories children consume each day. Research also shows that children often snack on foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients.

A simple way to boost nutrient density and fill in nutrient gaps is to eat food from the food groups as snacks. Even better, combine two or more foods from different food groups to create a mini-meal. And selecting foods from the food groups that tend to be under-consumed (fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains) can help children get all the nutrients they need for growing bodies.

Smart Snacking at School

Criteria set by the Smart Snacks in Schools regulations directs that food sold during the school day must meet certain nutrition standards. These rules apply to all foods sold on campus, including a la carte items, school stores and vending machines.

Teachers can extend these school-wide policies by establishing healthy classroom policies and teaching nutrition education in the classroom. Dairy Council of California K-12 nutrition curriculum aligns with Common Core State Standards and is designed to encourage healthy-eating behaviors and attitudes at every grade level.

Smart Snacking at Home

Parents can avoid a battle of wills with children by encouraging snacks that are fun, tasty and nutritious. Parents can't go wrong with these healthy snack ideas for kids. This tip sheet Healthy Snacks for Home and School offers additional snacking ideas featuring foods from the different food groups.

Making the healthy choice the easy choice is important too. Check out Nine Hacks for Healthy Snacks for tips on how to set up the kitchen to promote healthier snack choices for kids and adults.

This updated healthy snacking video also helps kids and their families learn the benefits of making healthy snack choices.


Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN
Director, Resource Development and Marketing


Maureen is a registered dietitian nutritionist and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.




1. Health and Academic Achievement, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website. Published May 2015.  

2. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. United States Department of Agriculture. Published February 2015.

3. Hess J, Slavin J. Snacking for a cause: nutritional insufficiencies and excesses of U.S. children, a critical review of food consumption patterns and macronutrient and micronutrient intake of U.S. children. Nutrients. 2014; 6(11): 4750-9. doi: 10.3390/nu6114750

Tags: food group foods healthy eating for kids healthy kids healthy snacking nutrition education snacking

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