Breakfast helps pupils do well

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A new report by Cambridge University Press suggests that children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to do well in end of primary school assessments than those who do not. It also found unhealthy food such as sweets had no positive effect.

The study asked 5,000 nine to 11-year-olds to list what they ate in 24 hours. It found eating unhealthy items such as sweets and crisps for breakfast (reported by one in five children) had no positive impact on how they performed in tests.

In fact, along with healthy breakfast items, all were significantly and positively associated with educational performance.

Lead author Hannah Littlecott, from Cardiff University, said the odds of achieving above average performance were up to twice as high for pupils who ate a healthy breakfast than for those who did not.

Moreover, the finding that this association between dietary factors and SATs scores for the whole sample was significant at both baseline and follow-up, providing further evidence that breakfast consumption behaviours may be relatively stable at this age and suggests that there may be a longitudinal effect of breakfast consumption on educational performance.

Co-author Dr Graham Moore said the data provided robust evidence of a link between eating breakfast and doing well at school.

Future research should aim to understand the causal mechanisms by which breakfast consumption and other health behaviours may improve academic outcomes, said the report authors.

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