Diet: poor school performance without breakfast

Diet: poor school performance without breakfast

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Without breakfast there is a risk of poor grades

If school children rarely had breakfast on school days, they achieved lower results in important final exams, as a recent study shows.

The University of Leeds' latest study found that waiving breakfast in children can have a negative impact on school grades. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "Frontiers in Public Health".

What is GCSE?

Schoolchildren who rarely had breakfast on school days achieved lower GCSE grades compared to schoolchildren having breakfast. GCSE is the most important final exam for lower secondary education in the UK school system.

Bad grades without breakfast?

When the researchers evaluated all the test results, they found that the schoolchildren who, according to their own statements, rarely eat breakfast, were almost two grades worse on their GCSE exams. GCSE qualifications are awarded on a grading scale from nine (highest grade) to one (lowest grade).

Children who did not have breakfast scored fewer points

GCSE grades are converted to point values. For example, A * corresponds to 58 points, A corresponds to 52 points, B corresponds to 46 points and so on. When children rarely had breakfast, they averaged 10.25 points less than children who ate breakfast frequently.

Breakfast is important for our perception

The study suggests that secondary school students are disadvantaged if they don't eat breakfast. There are many children who go to school without breakfast for a variety of reasons. It has been shown in the past that breakfast has a positive impact on children's perception. Current research suggests that poor nutrition is associated with poorer school results.

Should kids get a free breakfast at school?

The government in England runs a national, needs-based, free school lunch program that is accessible to all students, but there is no equivalent to breakfast. However, there is a charity breakfast program funded by the Ministry of Education that offers a free breakfast at more than 1,800 schools in socially and economically disadvantaged parts of England. One of the charities also supports breakfast supply in 480 British schools.

Increased academic level through breakfast?

The results of the survey support the demand that the currently limited free school breakfast program be offered at every state school in England. This study provides valuable insights into how important breakfast is for academic levels and the removal of barriers to learning. Education is crucial for a child's future success in life and overcoming poverty.

All children should have breakfast

It should be ensured that every child has breakfast in the morning. This can improve overall performance in school, which helps achieve higher results in the final exams.

How often do students avoid breakfast?

294 English students were interviewed for the study. Among the participants, 29 percent rarely or never had breakfast. 18 percent ate breakfast only occasionally and 53 percent said they had breakfast frequently. The values ​​reflect current national data from England, which show that more than 16 percent of all children in secondary school do not eat breakfast.

Breakfast improves concentration and willingness to learn

This study provides impressive evidence that eating a healthy breakfast can improve a child's level of education. The researchers suspect that breakfast improves concentration in the classroom and leads to an increased willingness to learn. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Katie Adolphus, Clare L. Lawton, Louise Dye: Associations Between Habitual School-Day Breakfast Consumption Frequency and Academic Performance in British Adolescents, in Frontiers in Public Health (query: 20.11.2019), Frontiers in Public Health

Video: Power Foods for the Brain. Neal Barnard. TEDxBismarck (February 2023).