Breakfast may just be the most important meal of the day, according to the Western Dairy Association. Children need breakfast in order to focus in class. Skipping breakfast can actually have a negative impact on a child’s grades in school. The Western Dairy Association compiled these research results:
How skipping breakfast can impair a child’s ability to learn
- Children who skip breakfast are less able to differentiate among visual images, show increased errors, and have slower memory recall.
- Children experiencing hunger have lower math scores and are more likely to repeat a grade.
- Behavioral, emotional and academic problems are more prevalent among children who are hungry.
- Children experiencing hunger are more likely to be hyperactive, absent and tardy, in addition to having behavioral and attention problems more often than other children.
- Children who are undernourished have poorer cognitive functioning when they miss breakfast.
- Teens experiencing hunger are more likely to have been suspended from school and have difficulty getting along with their peers.
- Children with hunger are more likely to have repeated a grade, received special education services, or received mental health counseling than low-income children who did not experience hunger.
How eating breakfast at school improves academic performance
- Children who eat a complete breakfast, versus a partial one, make fewer mistakes and work faster in math and number checking tests.
- Children who eat breakfast at school – closer to class and test-taking time – perform better on standardized tests than those who skip breakfast or eat breakfast at home.
- Providing breakfast to students at school improves their concentration, alertness, comprehension, memory, and learning.
- Children who eat breakfast show improved cognitive function, attention, and memory.
- Participating in school breakfast is associated with improved math grades, attendance and punctuality.
- Children perform better on tests of vocabulary and matching figures after eating breakfast.
- Consuming breakfast improves children’s performance on demanding mental tasks and reaction to frustration.
How school breakfast improves student behavior
- Students who participate in school breakfast show improved attendance, behavior, standardize achievement test scores as well as decreased tardiness.
- Providing students with breakfast in the classroom setting is associated with lower tardy rates and fewer disciplinary office referrals.
How breakfast protects against childhood obesity
- Adolescents who eat breakfast tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI); higher BMIs can indicate overweight and obesity.
- Girls who eat breakfast are more likely to have a lower BMI than girls who skip breakfast.
- Low-income elementary school girls who participate in the school breakfast, school lunch, or food stamp programs, or any combination of these programs, have significantly less risk of being overweight.
- Eating school breakfasts was associated with lower mean BMI levels.
(Source: Western Dairy Association)