We are always hearing of the benefits of a healthy breakfast, and how the lack of it can have adverse effects. A new study, published in Public Health Nutrition, has recently considered its effects on school performance.
Analysing eating habits of 5,000 children
Researchers from Cardiff University, UK, conducted a study involving over 5,000 children of 9 to 11 years of age from around 100 elementary schools. The children had to make a list of all the food and drink they consumed for 24 hours.
The intent of the public health experts was to analyse any link between the consumption and quality of breakfast and the results in school tests 6-18 months later.
Healthy breakfasts linked with greater academic performance
The results show that the number of healthy breakfast food items is linked with the level of academic performance.
The number of sweets, chips, and fruits and vegetables eaten during the rest of the day also seem to exert certain effects.
Children who had their breakfast were two times more likely to score above average marks than children who did not.
The consumption of unhealthy food (sweets, and crisps) for breakfast did not show positive impacts on educational performance.
Linking health & education in school programmes
The researchers believe their findings constitute compelling evidence that food consumption affects the performance of the children at school. Furthermore, the implications expand to both education and public health policy.
Therefore, they urge the authorities concerned to view both the health of the pupils and their educational performance as priorities.
“Linking our data to real world educational performance data has allowed us to provide robust evidence of a link between eating breakfast and doing well at school. There is therefore good reason to believe that where schools are able to find ways of encouraging those young people who don’t eat breakfast at home to eat a school breakfast, they will reap significant educational benefits,” says one of the authors, Dr Graham Moore.