Breakfast Impacts Children’s Academic Performance



The old mantra that breakfast is the most important meal of the day has been under fire recently with a number of studies questioning this common acceptance.


However, it would seem that for children at least, its importance is not being exaggerated.

An article published in the journal, “Public Health Nutrition” reported that children who eat breakfast before school achieve higher academic results in comparison to children who do not, with the breakfast eaters having twice the odds of achieving above-average performance when compared to non-eaters.

The research, undertaken at Cardiff University found that eating breakfast correlates with higher academic outcomes. However the content of the breakfast is important. In the study, eating what the researchers termed a “healthy” breakfast made up of cereal, dairy, fruit and bread could improve academic performance, whereas eating an “unhealthy” breakfast including sweets and crisps had no positive impact on test scores.

Hannah Littlecott, lead author of the study, said in a statement:

“While breakfast consumption has been consistently associated with general health outcomes and acute measures of concentration and cognitive function, evidence regarding links to concrete educational outcomes has until now been unclear.”

“This study therefore offers the strongest evidence yet of links between aspects of what pupils eat and how well they do at school”

1 in 5 children reported eating a breakfast comprising of sweets and crisps. This is something to keep in mind if children are not eating breakfast at home and are buying breakfast on the way to school.

Children’s Breakfast Advice:

  • When choosing cereal, try to go for one that contains wholegrain and is lower in salt and sugar.
  • Try to fit in some fruit – fresh, frozen, tinned or dried fruit all count towards 5 daily portions of fruit and veg. Put slices of banana on toast, or add chunks of apple, berries, or dried fruit to cereal.
  • Porridge oats are cheap and contain lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Make porridge with milk or water.
  • Eggs are a good source of high quality protein and rich in other nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin D, selenium and zinc. They are very versatile for breakfast; think poached, boiled and omelettes.
  • Smoothies are an easy way to increase fruit and veg intake. If time is an issue make it the night before and store it in the fridge. Otherwise prepare all the ingredients ready to buzz in a blender in the morning. Use fresh fruit such as banana and strawberries and some plain low-fat yoghurt or lower-fat milk, or puree a few canned apricot halves with some orange juice. Think about adding a handful of spinach or kale to the mix. You could also try adding some wholegrain cereal or oats to your smoothie for extra fibre.
  • Plan ahead to ensure your children are consistently eating a nutritious meal before school each morning.
They might even be top of the class. Not a guarantee though!


More information

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Liam Leech

Associate Nutritionist







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