A new study by public health experts out of Wales in Britain has revealed evidence to support a direct and positive link between the quality of a child’s breakfast and their school performance.
Looking at 5,000 children, aged 9 to 11, from over 100 schools, researchers from Cardiff University studied the link between breakfast consumption and exam grades attained in Teacher Assessments 6-18 months later.
Participants were asked to list all food and drink they consumed within just over a 24-hour period, including two breakfasts in total, complete with times for when the food and drink was taken.
Results showed that not only did breakfast have a positive effect on academic achievements, with pupils who consumed breakfast up to twice as likely to attain an above average performance than those who skipped breakfast, but that the quality of the breakfast also played an important role, with pupils who reported consuming sweets, crisps, and other unhealthy items (1 in 5 of the total participants) showing no improvement in educational achievement.
Children who ate breakfast did better in school than kids who skipped the meal.
The study, which was headed up by Hannah Littlecroft from Cardiff University’s Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPher), was published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.
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The results support previous studies that show a positive link between eating breakfast and performance. A 2005 US study by Tufts University, published in the journal Physiology And Behaviour, also found positive links between breakfast consumption and breakfast quality and school performance.
Those who skipped breakfast performed the worst in that study’s series of tests, and those who ate a healthier breakfast of whole-grain cereal and milk performed better than those who ate an unhealthier low-fibre, high-sugar cereal with milk. The study also found a positive link between breakfast consumption and school attendance and classroom behaviour, both of which are also linked to better school performance.
Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) recommends avoiding a breakfast that is high in fat, sugar, and salt, and instead opting for a combination of the following for a healthy, balanced breakfast:
Fruit and vegetables: Fruit and vegetables that are fresh, tinned, or frozen can be good for you. (Just be careful of things like tinned peaches in syrup as these are higher in sugar.)
Starchy foods: Bread (especially wholemeal), rice and cereals (especially wholegrain) that are lower-sugar and lower-salt
Milk and dairy: Cheese, low-fat yoghurt and lower-fat milk
Non-dairy protein: meat, fish, eggs, beans and unsalted nuts. – AFP Relaxnews