We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, studies have shown that this meal is often skipped by students: more than 1 in 5 secondary school children don't eat breakfast.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits students might be missing out on by skipping breakfast…
1. Enhances memory and attention
In a fascinating study, students were split into three groups: Breakfast, No Breakfast and Energy Drinks. This was done over four days and students took part in memory and attention tests.
So, what did the researchers find? Well, students showed a natural decline in cognitive performance throughout the morning. However, this decline was reduced by more than half when students had breakfast. Therefore, having breakfast not only helps students stay more alert, but also have improved memory throughout the day.
2. Improves academic performance
In another study, researchers found that 11-year-old students who ate breakfast were twice as likely to gain above average scores in their tests, compared to their peers who skipped breakfast.
This is not to say that having breakfast will drastically improve students’ academic performance, but it might give them the small push they may need to reach their goals.
3. Better eating habits that day
A previous study found that one of the most common reasons why students skip breakfast is to lose weight. However, by missing breakfast, the brain is primed to search out high-calorie food which may lead to eating more throughout the day.
Having breakfast helps provide the energy students need throughout the day. It might also lead to more, better eating habits, with another study finding that people who “rarely ate breakfast” consumed fewer nutrients, fibre and calcium.
4. Improves physical health
Following on from the previous point, studies have shown that skipping the first meal of the day is associated with an increase in the likelihood of becoming obese, developing diabetes and suffering from heart disease.
Therefore, having breakfast can help map out better eating habits throughout the day which will help improve students’ physical health.
5. Gives you energy
When we sleep, our blood sugar often drops. This results in us having less energy in the morning. If students skip out on having breakfast, this can result in them feeling sluggish and even more tired throughout the day.
Having breakfast helps give the body the glucose it needs to have enough energy and stay alert throughout the day.
6. Better mental health
In a previous study, researchers found that people who had breakfast were less depressed and perceived less stress than those who skipped out on breakfast. This needs to be taken with a pinch of salt though: we cannot tell if these benefits were directly caused by having breakfast or not.
Another finding that makes it seem more likely that skipping breakfast is linked with poorer mental health is from a review which found that missing breakfast leads to low blood sugar, which causes low mood, irritability and fatigue.
It is therefore important for their well-being that students have breakfast, even if it is something quick that they can have on the go.
7. Encourages physical activity
In a previous study, researchers found that eating breakfast was associated with exercising more. Although this might also not be a direct link, eating breakfast does help people feel more energetic, which can help encourage more physical activity.
For students, this is extremely important: exercise has not only physical benefits, but also significant benefits to their academic performance. Some examples of this include having improved memory, concentration and cognitive functioning. To find out more on this topic, see this blog.
It seems like the evidence is clear: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. With its benefits to mental well-being, skills needed to do well in school, physical health and lifestyle benefits, eating breakfast looks like an easy way for students to improve.
To see how else you can improve your learning through your morning routine, read our blog on “The Morning of an Exam”.