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Apples: Not Just for Teacher Anymore recently interviewed nutritionist Marion Nestle, who shared her views and experiences related to school food. Asked whether there were any data showing that schools striving to offer healthier food have seen an improvement in academic performance or behavioral problems, Nestle said she had only anecdotal evidence, and related what she had observed at a private school in New York City that had launched a sophisticated school food program.
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"I first visited the school after the chef had come in and thrown out all the junk food, gotten rid of the vending machines, and put only adult food in the cafeteria. Three months into that program, the teachers were telling me that the kids' behavior was outstandingly different, that they were not bouncing off the walls after lunch — I hear a lot about bouncing off the walls — and they were learning better."

More formal data are now available. In a paper to be published in the Journal of School Health, Canadian researchers are reporting the findings of a study they conducted of some 5,000 fifth-graders in Nova Scotia. The children and their parents were surveyed regarding dietary habits, and the children were given a literacy assessment. The results? Children who ate a better diet — more fruits and vegetables, less saturated fat — were more likely to pass the assessment.