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Celebrating National School Breakfast Week

By: Roberto Couto, Dietetic Intern

  • Tuesday, March 3, 2020
  • 2 Minute Read   

Studies support the benefits of students who consume breakfast.

One in five school-age children skip breakfast every day in the United States. Whether due to lack of access or time, students who skip breakfast are hungry and may not be adequately nourishing their growing bodies, putting them at a learning disadvantage. In fact, research shows that eating a nutritious, balanced breakfast can help reduce the risk of obesity, poor academic and athletic performance, poor concentration in class, and other serious nutrition-related concerns impacting school-aged children.

To ensure students are reminded about breakfasts’ important role in fueling bodies and minds for learning, each year, the first week of March is National School Breakfast Week, a celebration of the School Breakfast Program and its important contribution to ensuring that students are nourished and fueled for the day so that they can be alert and productive in the classroom. The School Breakfast Program helps bridge the hunger gap by providing 14 million children from all socioeconomic backgrounds with a well-balanced, healthy meal at the start of each school day.

Why Should Students Eat School Breakfast?

Studies continue to support the health and academic benefits of students who consume breakfast, with evidence linking consumption of school breakfast with:

  • Higher achievement in reading and math
  • Higher scores on standardized tests
  • Better concentration and memory
  • Higher level of alertness
  • Healthier weight management
  • Stronger nutrition quality with fewer nutrient deficiencies

Additionally, as rates of childhood obesity continue to climb, student access to wholesome, nutritious foods is more vital than ever. Breakfast provides a key opportunity for children to consume nutrient-rich foods such as dairy, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, foods typically underconsumed in the American diet. By supporting school breakfast consumption, we are supporting higher intake of healthful foods, better diet quality and improved academic achievement.

Educators Advocating for Breakfast and the School Breakfast Program

According to a 2015 survey of School Nutrition Association members, student participation in the school breakfast program increased during National School Breakfast Week. By driving awareness of federal nutrition programs and resources available to children and families, educators can make a positive impact on the health and performance of their students. Teachers and other school employees can encourage students to eat a healthy breakfast, whether at home or in the school cafeteria.

Coupled with awareness, equipping students with the knowledge to make healthier choices empowers them to take action. At HealthyEating.org, educators can find grade-specific nutrition lesson plans and resources to help teach students and their families the importance of a healthy eating pattern and how to make healthier eating decisions. Visit our curriculum page today and sign up for free classroom nutrition resources and empower your students for better health and academic success. 

Monzani A, Ricotti R, Caputo M, et al. A systematic review of the association of skipping breakfast with weight and cardiometabolic risk factors in children and adolescents. What should we better investigate in the future? Nutrients. 2019;11(2):387.
National School Breakfast Week. School Nutrition Association website. https://schoolnutrition.org/meetings/events/nsbw/2020/. Published June 14, 2019. Accessed February 12, 2020.
School Breakfast Program. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/eat-healthy/school-breakfast-program/index.html#. Reviewed January 26, 2017. Accessed February 12, 2020.
Kesztyüs D, Traub M, Lauer R, Kesztyüs T, Steinacker JM. Skipping breakfast is detrimental for primary school children: cross-sectional analysis of determinants for targeted prevention. BMC Public Health. 2017;17:258.
Ramsay SA, Bloch TD, Marriage B, Shriver LH, Spees CK, Taylor CA. Skipping breakfast is associated with lower diet quality in young US children. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018;72:548-556. doi:10.1038/s41430-018-0084-3
Adolphus K, Lawton C, Dye L. The effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in children and adolescents. Front Hum Neurosci. 2016;7(3):590-612. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00425
Littlecott HJ, Moore GF, Moore L, Lyons RA. Association between breakfast consumption and educational outcomes in 9–11-year-old children. Public Health Nutr. 2016;19(9):1575-1582. doi:10.1017/S1368980015002669

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