2nd November 2015: Children who admit to skipping breakfast are twice as likely to get “hangry” at school, admitting their hunger makes them grumpy or causes them to get annoyed at friends, according to new research.1
The national Galaxy study1 of Australian primary school-aged children, aged 6-12 years, revealed 43% of children admit to sometimes skipping breakfast before school. While the majority of children (91%) reported feeling hungry in class, it was breakfast skippers who were twice as likely to report being “hangry”, compared to children that never skip breakfast (27% vs 14%). Breakfast skippers were also more likely to forget to do their schoolwork and feel tired in class.
The Galaxy research, which was commissioned by the Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum (ABCMF), is consistent with growing scientific evidence linking breakfast consumption with improved cognitive function in students.
New UK scientific research, published in Public Health Nutrition this month, reported significant associations between self-reported breakfast consumption and positive educational outcomes, prompting researchers to highlight the need to increase awareness about the educational benefits of breakfast.2
Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson Tania Ferraretto said the two studies revealed the true impact of skipping breakfast and the urgent need to educate and reinforce breakfast as the top morning priority.
“Eating breakfast should be a no brainer. It is crucial for children – giving them the chance to take in key nutrients like B vitamins, folate, iron and fibre. And we know through research that breakfast plays a key role in improving mental and physical performance,” said Ms Ferraretto, Accredited Practising Dietitian.
She recommended starting the day with a healthy breakfast that is high in fibre and includes protein.
“In particular, a good quality breakfast that contains cereal, dairy and fruit has been linked with a positive influence on school performance and helps beat the ‘fuzzies’ or poor concentration often seen in kids who skip breakfast,” said Ms Ferraretto.
“We’re increasingly seeing breakfast become a meal that’s eaten on-the-run, or not at all, as families battle to manage hectic mornings. It’s time to reprioritise and find solutions that ensure five minutes is set aside each morning for breakfast.”
The Galaxy research revealed that while many skip breakfast, the majority of primary school-aged children are capable of making at least a bowl of breakfast cereal for themselves (87%).
Research confirmed the morning rush and fussy eaters were the main causes of breakfast skipping. Nearly a quarter of breakfast skippers (22%) missed breakfast because they ran out of time in the morning and a quarter (22%) because they weren’t hungry or there was nothing they felt like eating.
In response, Sprout Cooking School’s Callum Hann and Accredited Practising Dietitian Themis Chryssidis have partnered with ABCMF to create a school-day breakfast program to inspire children to make their own breakfast and help return breakfast to a morning “must have”.
The program includes My Brekkie Book – a free guide of quick, and easy breakfast ideas that children can make themselves, while also teaching them about the nutritional benefits – and hands-on skills classes at the duo’s Adelaide-based Sprout Kitchen.
“This latest Galaxy research shows we need to inspire kids to step into the kitchen at brekkie time, showing them how making breakfast can be fun and turning this from a chore to something they want to do in the morning,” said Mr Chryssidis, Accredited Practising Dietitian.
“We need to teach them why breakfast is important with real and immediate benefits they can understand – how healthy eating can help them concentrate, improve their mood and give them energy.
“Education plays a big part in getting children to eat healthy food and it works best when you get them involved. To help we’ve also come up with breakfasts children can make themselves, hopefully empowering children and taking away some of the morning stress for parents.”
Celebrity cook and author Callum Hann said adults didn’t give children enough credit in the kitchen.
“They are more capable than you may think and breakfast is an ideal entry point to get children in the kitchen, whether it’s adding a twist to their favourite breakfast cereal or having a go at something a little more challenging,” said Mr Hann.
“The breakfasts in the plan are based on what we know children enjoy eating. We’ve carefully crafted meals to be nutritious and a bit of a creative challenge for children, while still being quick and easy enough for them to make before school.”
The research also revealed the most popular breakfast for primary school-aged children is breakfast cereal, including ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, oats/porridge and muesli (51%) followed by bread/toast or pancakes (43%).
Themis and Callum’s My Brekkie Book is available for parents to download for free from www.sprout.edu.au or www.cereal4brekkie.org.au. Bookings for Sprout Kitchen kids classes, featuring My Brekkie Book meals, can also be made online at www.sprout.edu.au.
Issued on behalf of Sprout Kitchen, Dietitians Association of Australia and the Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum
Sprout Kitchen was commissioned by the Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum (ABCMF) to develop a kids breakfast program in response to the Galaxy research. ABCMF is a corporate partner of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA).
- Galaxy Research, September 2015, survey of n=510 Australian primary school children aged 6-12 years
- Littlecott, H, Moore G et al (2015), Association between breakfast consumption and educational outcomes in 9–11-year-old children, Public Health Nutrition