The role of breakfast in your child’s physical and mental performance
Breakfast plays a vital role in enhancing your child’s physical and mental performance, as well as his ability to learn. The reason for this is that breakfast provides a major source of energy for the brain, after a 10 or 12-hour gap since the last meal. Foods containing complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain breakfast cereals and whole-wheat breads, are absorbed by the body slowly, so they give your child energy all day long.
Many studies have shown that children who regularly eat breakfast have better mental performance than children who don’t.
Children who eat breakfast surpass their peers in:
- Attention, concentration and class participation1
- Academic performance2-8
- Memory retention and speech fluency
- Good social behaviour
- Love for school and interest in studying
A good breakfast also makes it more likely that your child will:
- Meet his daily nutritional requirements
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Enjoy better health and fewer sick days from school
What is a healthy breakfast?
A healthy breakfast is a meal that is rich in complex carbohydrates. Here are some examples of a healthy breakfast:
- A glass of milk with a serving of whole grain breakfast cereals
- A boiled egg
- A banana
Or it can be:
- A glass of milk
- A piece of whole-wheat bread with labneh or cheese and some sliced vegetables
- An apple
Make breakfast healthier by including as many of the five food groups (Bread & Cereals, Meat & Legumes, Fruits, Vegetables and Dairy) as possible. Also, variety encourages children to eat, boosts their appetite and helps provide them with a wide range of beneficial nutrients.
Most importantly – always remember as parents you are the best role models for your children, so if you both eat breakfast and a nutritious balanced one, your child will too!
- Benton, D., Parker, P.Y. 1998. Breakfast, blood glucose, and cognition.Am J Clin Nutr. 67(4): 772S-778S.
- Wahlstrom, K. L., & Begalle, M. S. (1999). More than test scores: results of the Universal School Breakfast Pilot in Minnesota. Topics in Clinical Nutrition, 15(1):17-29.
- Wesnes KA, Pincock C, Richardson D et al (2003) Breakfast reduced declines in attention and memory over the morning in schoolchildren. Appetite. 41(3):329 –31.
- Murphy, J.M., Pagano, M. E., Nachmani, J., Sperling, P., Kane, S., & Kleinman, R. E. (1998). The relationship of school breakfast to psycosocial and academic functioning. Archives Pediatric Adolescent
- Medicine: 152:899-907.
- Smith AP (2003)Breakfast cereal consumption and subjective reports of health by young adults. Nutritional Neuroscience, 6, 59-61
- Smith AP (1999) Breakfast cereal consumption and subjective reports of health. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 50, 445-449.
- Smith AP (1998) Breakfast and mental health. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 49, 397-402.
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Two things to remember: • Look for food labels where the word 'whole' appears in front of the name of the grain, like “whole wheat” or “wholemeal bread”. • For foods with more than one ingredient, make sure whole grain is listed towards the top of the ingredients list. The further up the list it is, the more whole grain has been used in the recipe. And look out for the percentage of whole grain. You should find this in the ingredients list too.
All Nestlé breakfast cereals carrying the green banner are made with whole grain; this is our Whole Grain Guarantee. They are made with at least 8g or more of whole grain per 30g serving. There are ingredient lists on all packs, showing the exact amount. By end of 2015, we’re committed to making whole grain the main ingredient in all Nestlé cereals popular with children.
A complete breakfast should include a balance of nutrients from each of the major food groups.