Research shows children who eat breakfast concentrate more at school

Posted: 13th March 2023

Source: Independent UK

According to teachers, youngsters who do eat before school are more willing to take part in group activities, have higher concentration levels, and appear to be happier in class.

A study of 500 educators found 72 per cent notice a significant difference between students who eat the first meal of the day and those who don’t.

Characteristics of those who don’t have breakfast on a regular basis include giving up on tasks quickly, showing signs of tiredness, and being easily distracted.

Similarly, they aren’t as engaged as those who have eaten and lack curiosity.

A further 97 per cent of teachers believe breakfast, such as a bowl of cereal or toast, is very important to the success of kids at school.

The research was commissioned by Warburtons as part of its partnership with the charity Magic Breakfast to highlight the importance of a good breakfast and provide over a million breakfasts to children facing food insecurity.

Lindsey MacDonald, chief executive at Magic Breakfast, said: “At Magic Breakfast it’s our mission to end morning hunger as a barrier to learning for children and young people in the UK.

“However, as financial pressures continue to stretch more and more families, sadly an increasing number of children are going to school hungry.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Warburtons and to have their support in providing more young people the chance to have a nutritious breakfast at school.

“We know that those who have had a breakfast are more settled, ready to learn and go on to achieve better results at school, helping them realise their dreams.”

Jonathan Warburton, chairman of Warburtons, added: “Not every child has access to breakfast before school and we want to help change that.

“We firmly believe that all children should get the opportunity to thrive at school, no matter their circumstances.”

The study also found during a typical school day, a child will first say they are “hungry” at 9:54am.

According to the teachers polled via OnePoll, nearly half (48 per cent) of children in their school communities will eat while on the journey in, and 46 per cent will have their morning meal at a breakfast club.

However, teachers reckon 34 per cent of their class don’t eat before they start lessons for the day.

Providing children with breakfast before classes begin is important according to 95 per cent, but sadly a quarter says their school doesn’t have a club or trolley to offer this.

Those whose school does offer these facilities typically serve food including toast, cereal, and juice.

More than seven in 10 (71 per cent) believe a breakfast club gives the children time to settle into the school environment before lessons begin.

While getting a nutritious meal (76 per cent), socialising with other students (60 per cent), and learning about the importance of a good breakfast (47 per cent) were some of the other benefits cited.

But sadly, 38 per cent worry about school budgets impacting morning clubs for students.

Aside from the nutritional aspect, 70 per cent believe a good breakfast allows children time to properly prepare for the day ahead.

While a further 57 per cent say it gives them time to wake up before lessons.

Dietitian Priya Tew said: “In light of the cost of living crisis, many children are missing out on meals and nutrition at home, so being provided with a balanced breakfast at school could make a huge impact on their health.

“Children who eat a hearty breakfast have a higher intake of key nutrients than breakfast skippers.

“Whilst all meals are important, breakfast can be a golden opportunity to encourage children to eat fibre, calcium, B vitamins, protein, iron, and one of their five a day with a portion of fruit.

“Numerous studies have shown breakfast may benefit physical health and cognitive function too – improving concentration levels and chances of a child’s success at school.

“Missing out a whole meal a day is going to make it hard to catch up on the nutrition their bodies need and reach their full potential in the classroom.”

Jonathan Warburton added: “We firmly believe that all children should get the opportunity to thrive at school, no matter their circumstances.

“That’s why our partnership with Magic Breakfast is so important to us here at Warburtons – not every child has access to breakfast before school and we want to help change that.

“On top of the product donations and community grants we make through the Warburtons Foundation, our pledge to provide 1.1 million breakfasts to schools through Magic Breakfast means we’ll be able to reach and support more families – something our family business has been committed to since we began.”

10 characteristics of children who do eat breakfast before school:

  1. High concentration levels
  2. Engaged with the lesson
  3. A positive attitude
  4. Happier to be in the classroom
  5. A willingness to participate in class activities
  6. A good memory of things previously learnt/spoken about
  7. Contributing to group activities
  8. Better grades
  9. Raising their hand to answer questions
  10. Curiosity about what is being taught

10 characteristics of children who don’t eat breakfast before school:

  1. Tiredness
  2. Struggles to concentrate
  3. Easily distracted
  4. Not fully engaged with the lesson
  5. Gives up on tasks quickly
  6. A negative attitude
  7. Easily confused
  8. Struggles to remember things from previous lessons
  9. Lack of curiosity about what is being taught
  10. Less creative
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