Do Children Who Eat Breakfast Perform Better In School Than Those Who Do Not Eat Breakfast? Report
Medical experts and policymakers have expressed concern about the amount of children who have been attending school without eating breakfast in the US. Whatever the reason for this occurrence, the problem is huge and deserve a lot of attention. The common consensus of the school board, is the ways to alleviate this longstanding problem. While some children are not able to eat anything that early in the morning, studies have shown that the majority are either not eating breakfast, are not given any, or cannot afford it. School programs have been implemented in some schools to solve this problem, but for others the struggle is continuous. This report answers the question of whether or not children who eat breakfast are performing better in school than those who do not. It shows the statistics of these occurrences and how it affects each child. The conclusion is that there is a need for the school board, the parents and the policymakers to make a collaborative effort in solving the problem outlined.
Breakfast is said to be the most nutritious meal of the day. It is supposed to break the fast of the night before. Better performance has been linked to the eating of breakfast in the morning, even though there are some who do not eat and are still performing well. A group of researchers based at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Nursing conducted a research with 1,269 children aged 6 years old in China (Liu, 2013).
The children were made to perform several tests, which tested their IQs. The results uncovered were that the children who normally skipped breakfast scored 5.58 points less on their verbal, 2.5 points less on their performance and 4.6 points less on their overall IQ scores than their breakfast-eating counterparts. Studies show that a person’s ¹Body Mass Index or BMI when they eat breakfast is somewhat lower than that of those who skip breakfast (Gutierrez, 2013).
This study also alludes to the fact that children who do not eat breakfast are more susceptible to weight gain than those who do not. The results were in terms of the differences in the energy that they got from eating breakfast and the energy that was used up. The available evidence was unable to clarify whether or not the lower BMI was linked to the frequency of eating breakfast or the quality or type of the breakfast that was eaten. Breakfast eaters were found to be less likely to be obese than those who skipped eating altogether (Gutierrez, 2013).
The link between skipping breakfast and the consumption of fast food is a much publicized one. It underscores the need for stricter monitoring of kids and the food that they ingest on a daily basis (Gutierrez, 2013).
Data extracted from the NFCS/CSFII concluded that between 1965 to 1991, the consumption of breakfast has greatly declined among children in America, between the ages of 1 and 18 years. The sharpest decline was observed between adolescents in the age groups 11-18 years. Results from another CSFII survey for the period 1994-96 indicated that 91.8% or a possible 9 out of 10 children in the 2-5 age group ate breakfast. The results also showed that a possible 92.9% of males in the 6-11 years age group and 91.6 females in that same age group also ate. In the age group 12-19 years, 78.4 males and 74.6 females ate breakfast (Coulston & Boushey 2008).
A more recent survey, the 2001 - 2002 NHANES, data showed that children’s intake of breakfast declined as they got older. The survey specifically stated that in children aged 2-5 years, there were 96% of the males and 95 % of the females who ate breakfast. In the 6 to 11 age group, 87% males and 86% females ate breakfast in the morning. In the 12-19 age group though, it showed that 69% males and 70% females did so (Shils & Shike 2006).
Other studies from the national institute of health has uncovered that hungry children are more likely to get sick, or they recover from their illness at a slower pace. They tend to be hospitalized more often than those who eat breakfast. More likely to get stomachache, ear infections, headache, develop or catch a cold, or become lethargic and are more susceptible to other, more serious health issues. In relation to their academic and cognitive skills they are likely to retain less, learn more slowly and study less than those who eat breakfast. They become more easily distracted because of their hunger. The unsuccessful attempts of recent initiatives are suggestive of the fact that ignoring the problem may not be the correct answer to this escalating issue. In realizing this, with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, new standards of meal preparation have been addressed, because of the importance of breakfast to kids in school. They have increased the amount of vegetables and fruits that is served with each breakfast to provide more nutritious meals for students. The children who eat breakfast before school in the morning gain innumerable benefits, both physical and mental. The benefits are not only for the school day, but also for their general health and performance. Their brains can benefit from the nutrients that they derive from a healthy breakfast and enhance their thinking skills. In an issue of “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience’” printed in August 2013, Pediatrician, Dr. William Sears advocated that if a child eats breakfast each day, their mental performance can be greatly improved, along with their math scores (US, Congress & Senate, 2011).
They are also able to participate more in discussions and can handle complex problems. This enhanced performance can lead to better grades. If the breakfast that is consumed by the child is highly nutritious, their performance can be boosted for the entire day. The effect that a healthy breakfast has on a child’s performance in school greatly varies by the gender of the child and their moods. This observation was made by the University of Ulster at a European Nutrition Conference in 2003 (UNU,2003).
Even though the consumption of breakfast can boost the child’s memory and attention level of all the children in the study, it was found that girls were the higher performers when a mixture of protein and carbohydrates were included in the breakfast, as opposed to only carbohydrates. This was evident especially when the girls expressed negativity. The combined addition of carbohydrates and protein also boosted the performance in both boys and girls when the questions got harder and more complex. In conclusion, the evidence strongly suggests that the children who consume breakfast before going to school are outperforming their breakfast-skipping counterparts and the ones who continuously eat breakfast in the mornings are doing even better.
Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2011/oct/23/school-breakfast-clubs-at-risk on 28th February, 2015.
¹ a person’s BMI is used to measure the amount of body fat that the person has. It is calculated by weight (kg) divided by Height (m). If a child has a BMI with a high percentage rating he is considered to be obese.
Ann M. Coulston, C. J. (2008). Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Disease. San Diego: Academic Press.
Gutierrez, D. (2013). Skipping breakfast hurts your child's IQ. Natural News, http://www.naturalnews.com/039085_skipping_breakfast_children_IQ.html.
Jianghong-Liu. (2013). Can breakfast make kids smarter. Science Daily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130205143334.htm.
Maurice Edward Shils, M. S. (2006). Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Senate., U. S. (2011). Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act Of 2010: Report Together with Additional and Supplemental Views (to Accompany S. 3307). Memphis: General Books.