KIDS
November 25, 2015

The Breakfast of Academic Champions

A little attention to what your child eats in the morning can make a difference in their GPA.

If your child is a breakfast-skipper or won’t eat anything but sugary cereals or pastries for breakfast, you have a real opportunity to improve his or her academic success. Kids who eat breakfast, and especially those who eat a higher quality breakfast, do better in school, according to a new study.

Kids who skip breakfast perform worse on standardized tests than those who eat breakfast. Other studies have also shown that those who eat breakfast, particularly a healthy breakfast, do better in school performance, attendance, and behavior, all of which are linked to their academic success.

Not only did breakfast-eaters do better on a standardized test six to 18 months later, but kids who ate breakfast doubled their odds of scoring above average compared to those who skipped breakfast.

In this newest study, believed to be the largest to date, researchers analyzed the breakfast habits of 5,000 children, ages 9 to 11, and the long-term effect of those habits on their performance on standardized tests.

Not surprisingly, they found that students who ate breakfast and who ate a healthy breakfast achieved higher scores.

Students in the study were asked to keep track of all the food and beverages consumed for just over a day, long enough to include two breakfasts. Not only did breakfast-eaters do better on a standardized test six to 18 months later, but kids who ate breakfast doubled their odds of scoring above average compared to those who skipped breakfast.

The quality of breakfast foods made a difference as well. Kids who reported eating sweets, pastries, and other less-than-healthy foods — about 20 percent of students in the study — showed no improvement in academic achievement over the course of the study.

“Linking our data to real world educational performance data has allowed us to provide robust evidence of a link between eating breakfast and doing well at school,” said Dr. Graham Moore, a co-author of the study, in a statement. “There is therefore good reason to believe that where schools are able to find ways of encouraging those young people who don't eat breakfast at home to eat a school breakfast, they will reap significant educational benefits.”

The findings may be the strongest evidence to date of the meaningful connection between what children eat and their academic achievement.

Parents, you have not only an opportunity to improve your child’s school performance but also to reduce their risk of becoming overweight, by making sure they eat a healthy breakfast before heading out to school each morning.

Here are some quick and healthy breakfast ideas you may want to have on hand as your children head out the door:

  • Boiled egg, whole wheat toast, canned fruit, lowfat milk
  • Greek yogurt with frozen berries and lowfat granola, orange juice
  • Whole grain muffin , canned fruit, lowfat milk
  • Whole grain cereal (low sugar), banana slices, lowfat milk
  • Oatmeal with chopped nuts, canned fruit, lowfat milk
  • Whole wheat toast with peanut butter, apple slices, lowfat milk
  • The study is published in Public Health Nutrition.

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