Researchers found the strongest proof between breakfast consumption and educational achievement among young people in the United Kingdom. Finding showed students who had breakfast performed better academically compared to those who did not have breakfast.
Public health experts from Cardiff University in the UK analyzed over 5,000 students in over 100 primary schools. The students ranged from 9 to 11 years old whose quality of breakfast and consumption rate were analyzed along with their succeeding attainment in the Key Stage 2 Teacher Assessments which followed six to 18 months after the survey. In 2005, Teacher Assessments replaced the Statutory Assessment Tests (SATs) in Wales.
The students listed all the food and drinks they consumed in 24 hours in chronological order, which includes two breakfasts. Students who ate breakfast had higher chances (almost double) of achieving an above average performance rating when compared to students who did not eat breakfast. One in five students reported to eating unhealthy options like sweets and chips. Researchers found these unhealthy breakfast options did not have any positive impact on the academic performance.
The researchers also found that aside from breakfast consumption, dietary behaviors and quality of breakfast also contribute to higher academic performance among the students. Eating a good breakfast made up of bread, fruit, cereal and dairy contribute to better educational performance.
"This study therefore offers the strongest evidence yet of links between aspects of what pupils eat and how well they do at school, which has significant implications for education and public health policy," said lead author Hannah Littlecott from Cardiff University's DECIPher (centre for the development and evaluation of complex interventions for public health improvement).
The findings are a good addition to the mounting studies that prove how investing on improvements towards young people's well-being can also lead to advances in the young people's academic achievement, added social policy and sociology professor Chris Bonell from the University College London Institute of Education.
In the United Kingdom, many schools have started offering healthy breakfast to their students. This arrangement helps ensure that young students benefit from a healthy breakfast, which in time could help boost UK's overall academic attainment among young people. For instance, the charitable organization Magic Breakfast provides free, healthy breakfast to over 22,000 children daily.
The researchers published [pdf] their findings in the Public Health Nutrition journal.