Sept. 15, 2017: Correlation Between Grades, Health Shows in CDC Data

As millions of students across the United States head back to school, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data confirming the close connection between student health and academic performance.

The data published in the Sept. 8 issue of The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggest that regardless of sex, race/ethnicity and grade-level, high school students reporting lower academic marks also reported greater health risk behaviors associated with substance use, violence, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and sex. They also reported fewer healthy behaviors than students with better grades.

Students who reported receiving mostly Ds and Fs were:

  • Nine times more likely than students who received mostly As to report ever injecting any illegal drugs;
  • Five times more likely to not go to school at least one day in the past month because of safety concerns;
  • Four times more likely to report that they had four or more sexual partners;
  • Half as likely to eat breakfast every morning in the previous week; and
  • One and a half times less likely to report being physically active for at least 60 minutes a day on five or more of the days in the preceding week.

The CDC asserts that this data does not reflect causality, though it confirms that across nearly 30 health behaviors, students with lower grades reported higher levels of health risks or negative outcomes. The data analyzed came from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

More information is in the Sept. 8 issue of The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.