According to a recent study, those eating a healthy breakfast before school achieve higher academic results than students who eat unhealthy breakfasts, or nothing at all.
Experts at Cardiff University say these findings are the strongest evidence to date of the direct, positive link between eating breakfast and education. The report suggests the chances of achieving above average test results doubled for those pupils who ate breakfast before starting the school day.
While there is substantial research linking breakfast to improved measures of focus and concentration, this is the study to find a “meaningful” link.
The Welsh study looked at 5,000 students aged between nine and 11, attending over 100 primary schools in the area. Lead author of the study, Hannah Littlecott told the Guardian how despite eating breakfast being consistently associated with improved health, focus and cognitive function, evidence regarding this has until now been unclear.
The children involved in the study were asked to list all the food and drink they had consumed over the last 24 hours. They were asked to write the list chronologically, starting from breakfast one day, to breakfast the following day.
Six to 18 months after the survey, the children’s breakfast habits were compared to their key stage 2 results. The results showed that those eating a “good breakfast” including dairy, cereal, fruit and bread had improved educational performance. Those eating unhealthy foods in the morning including sweets, crisps and biscuits saw no positive impact on their education.
It was found that one in five children were eating an unhealthy breakfast each morning.
It is thought that almost 50 per cent of schools in England provide breakfast for students, particularly those in areas of deprivation. Magic Breakfast, the charity providing free breakfast to over 20,000 children per day said that every child should have access to a healthy, nutritious breakfast.
Chief executive of the charity Carmel McConnell welcomed the new evidence, “This is exactly what our 460 school partners tell us everyday. With outcomes like this for such a small financial investment, why aren’t we doing more?”