Giving our children that extra edge in their intellectual endeavors isn’t as difficult as one might have thought. New evidence provided by researchers at Cardiff University once again shows that significant educational outcomes ensue when kids indulge in a good, hearty breakfast.
When researchers tested over 5000 children ages 9 to 11 years old, they found that making sure the kids ate a good breakfast improved test scores twice as much compared to kids who did not eat breakfast. This groundbreaking study also found a correlation between academic performance and the kind of breakfast kids ate.
Kids who ate unhealthy items like sweets or crisps for breakfast showed no improvement, but researchers found that kids who ate healthy items boosted their odds of achieving an above average educational performance by up to twice as much.
Hannah Littlecott from Cardiff University’s Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPher), lead author of the study, said:
“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, which has significant implications for education and public health policy. . .”
In the UK as well as in the US, school meals have been under fire for containing lackluster nutrition. Littlecott explained:
“For schools, dedicating time and resource towards improving child health can be seen as an unwelcome diversion from their core business of educating pupils, in part due to pressures that place the focus on solely driving up educational attainment.
But this resistance to delivery of health improvement interventions overlooks the clear synergy between health and education. Clearly, embedding health improvements into the core business of the school might also deliver educational improvements as well.”
Though some school aged children may not be looking forward to healthy meals like these shown in the The Washington Post, the study’s findings should help to convince school breakfast and lunch providers in every country to do a little better.
Professor Chris Bonell, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University College London Institute of Education, welcomed the study’s findings. He said:
“This study adds to a growing body of international evidence indicating that investing resources in effective interventions to improve young people’s health is also likely to improve their educational performance. This further emphasizes the need for schools to focus on the health and education of their pupils as complementary, rather than as competing priorities.
Many schools throughout the UK now offer their pupils a breakfast. Ensuring that those young people most in need benefit from these schemes may represent an important mechanism for boosting the educational performance of young people throughout the UK.”