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Schüler des Lessing Gymnasiums Mannheim.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: During the last few years there have been many articles in various newspapers about the unhealthy nutrition of children. It was the aim of this study to find out about the state of nutrition and exercise among the children at our school, a Gymnasium (secondary or grammar school) in Mannheim, Germany. METHODS: We distributed questionnaires to 729 fellow pupils at the school to get some data/information about their exercise, nutrition and leisure activities. We developed a point-based system to record the quality of the food eaten; the time spent on sports, playing musical instruments; looking at television (TV) etc. or using the computer; and other leisure activities (e.g. reading, meeting friends, playing games). RESULTS: 84% of completed questionnaires were returned (98% of those sent to pupils in the lower forms). Food served at our school was reasonably good, but could have been improved by having a proper dining room or cafeteria. The situation regarding exercise tended to get worse in the younger pupils, because the school day has been lengthened. We found gender-related differences between school marks and other parameters. There was a positive relationship between good marks and a low [normal?] body mass index (BMI) and a negative effect on nutrition/exercise of hours spent watching TV or on the computer (PC). We also found a strong correlation in girls between school marks and their leisure. The number of points for wholesome meals, how much time the pupils spent on sports and music led to better school marks. Pupils of the lower grades exercised much less than older ones. CONCLUSION: Body weight index and their TV/computer time had similar effects in girls and boys. A low BMI correlated with better school marks, while high TV/PC time worsened them At our school relatively few pupils were overweight. Good nutrition and good amounts of exercise correlated positively with good marks. The amount of exercise taken by the pupils decreased as they advanced to the higher grades.