September 04, 2006

Eat breakfast. Do better in school.

Again, what seems like common sense gets the makings of a news article. The first sentence says "Attention, children: Do not skip breakfast -- or your grades could pay a price."

Evidence suggests that eating breakfast really does help kids learn. After fasting all night, a developing body (and brain) needs a fresh supply of glucose -- or blood sugar. That's the brain's basic fuel.

"Without glucose," explains Terrill Bravender, professor of pediatrics at Duke University, "our brain simply doesn't operate as well. People have difficulty understanding new information, [they have a] problem with visual and spatial understanding, and they don't remember things as well."

Dozens of studies from as far back as the 1950s have consistently shown that children who eat breakfast perform better academically than those who don't.

Isn't this sort of akin to "studies show that smoking is bad for your health"? In other words ... COMMON SENSE?? (But who ever said common sense is in large supply these days, right?)

And you know what's scary? When I do the "food" unit with my classes each year, I informally poll my students about who regularly eats breakfast. Only about half do. The results cut across socio-economic boundaries, too. (I then proceed into an "off the cuff" lecture about how important the day's first meal is.) But, certainly, I don't blame the kids. Much. So ... what's the deal, parents?

Consider: Kids that go without breakfast are essentially going without any sort of sustenance for approximately 15-17 hours. (Using an estimated dinner time of 6pm and lunch time the next day of 11am.) My stomach is growling -- and I get irritable -- even now at my ripe old age of 41 if I wait that long to eat something. It was quite magnified back when I was between 13-18 years old on the rare occasion I waited that long to eat. There have been numerous times in the morning when my daughter has said she isn't hungry, and doesn't want to eat anything for breakfast. I'm adamant that she has something -- at the very least a glass of OJ and half a bagel, for instance -- and the Hube daughter has remarked how much better she feels about an hour to two hours later ... than she did at the time she didn't want to eat.

Parents: Make sure your kids eat breakfast.

Posted by Hube at September 4, 2006 09:13 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

You are obviously a victim of "white privilege" here, Hube. Ya see, you "know" that your daughter should be eating breakfast in the morning. However, there has been a centuries-old conspiracy to deprive our minority students of meals in the morning. Hence, they have learned over the years that breakfast is not important. This then leads to an overall lag in the academic performance of America's minorities because they are not as well nourished as their white peers.
This is yet one more hurdle our minority kids must overcome!

Posted by: Grappa Appa at September 4, 2006 05:23 PM

the Hube daughter

I think her official Blogsphere nickname should be "The Hubeling."

Posted by: Paul Smith at September 5, 2006 05:00 PM

The underlying "research" on this issue is problematic to say the least. Small sample sizes (30 kids), short period of time, no indication that SES and other student effects were controlled for, sponsored by quaker oats, etc.

I would seriously doubt that the this results are significant at the 95% level (the results could have been by chance).

Posted by: kderosa at September 6, 2006 02:15 PM

Great site you have there, kderosa! Very intriguing. We'll be linking to it.

But curious: On what do you base your comment? The article gives no indication of what you state. I am assuming you have seen other research ... ?

Posted by: Hube at September 6, 2006 03:12 PM

I tracked down the name of the study "Effect of breakfast composition on cognitive processes in elementary school children." If you google it you'll find bits and pieces of the study parameters, even though the entire study is not yet available online.

It's not to say that it isn't a good idea to eat a good breakfast before school, but studies like this just haven't proven that yet.

Posted by: KDeRoas at September 6, 2006 04:29 PM