Looking for proof on why school breakfast is important? Here it is – all in one document. The newly-released Breakfast for Health brief, Fall 2011, by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) summarizes a large body of research on the strong link between school breakfast consumption and favorable dietary, health, and educational outcomes among children and adolescents.
Some of the report highlights:
1. School breakfast participation improves children’s dietary intake.
- Low-income children who eat school breakfast have better overall diet quality than those who eat breakfast elsewhere or skip breakfast.
2. School breakfast decreases the risk of food insecurity.
3. School breakfast may protect against childhood obesity.
- School breakfast participation is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI, an indicator of excess body fat), lower probability of overweight, and lower probability of obesity.
- Increasing participation in the federal nutrition programs – including school breakfast – is a childhood obesity prevention strategy recommended by two recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) committees and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity.
4. School breakfast participation protects against other negative health outcomes.
- – School breakfast, including breakfast offered free to all students, has been linked with fewer visits to the school nurse, particularly in the morning.
- School breakfast participation, especially breakfast offered free to all students, positively impacts children’s mental health, including reductions in behavioral problems, anxiety, and depression.
5. School breakfast helps improve children’s academic performance, whereas skipping breakfast and experiencing hunger impair development and learning.
- – Students who participate in school breakfast show improved attendance, behavior, and academic performance as well as decreased tardiness.
- -Participating in school breakfast is associated with improved math grades, attendance, and punctuality.
6. Breakfast in the classroom programs‡ and programs offering breakfast free to all children in the cafeteria yield other positive results for health and learning.
- -Programs offering breakfast free to all students and breakfast in the classroom boost student breakfast participation.
- Students attending schools that offer a breakfast free to all students are more likely to consume a nutritionally substantive breakfast and to consume significantly more calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, fruit, and dairy products at breakfast, when compared to students from schools with a traditional means-tested school breakfast in the cafeteria program.