Skipping Breakfast Significantly Reduces Student School Performance
Photo by Dave Whamond, published in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Skipping breakfast before a day of school significantly reduced students’ speed and accuracy on cognitive and memory tests compared with those who ate breakfast, according to a study recently published online in the journal Appetite.
Researchers compared the performance of 1,386 students from 32 schools throughout the U.K. on several Internet-based tests of attention, memory and reaction time. Subjects included 721 girls and 665 boys age 6 to 16 who logged onto a website between 7:42 a.m. and 12:33 p.m. On testing day, 1,202 students reported having breakfast and 184 didn’t have breakfast. A higher percentage of girls didn’t have breakfast, 7.6% compared with 5.6% of boys.
Compared with those who ate breakfast, students who skipped the morning meal had 7% slower power of attention, a measure of their ability to focus and avoid distraction. They also detected 7% fewer targets on target-detection tasks and correctly identified 9% fewer pictures on a picture-recognition test at a 9% slower speed than students who ate breakfast. Variability in response time, an indication of focusing consistency, was 10% more erratic in those who missed breakfast. Girls without breakfast were significantly more disrupted in their ability to focus than boys who didn’t have breakfast, results showed.
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