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Researchers from the University of Leeds found a link between eating breakfast and General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) grades among British students.
The study found that students who skip breakfast get lower GCSE scores compared to those who frequently eat breakfast. On average, breakfast skippers scored 10.25 points lower—equivalent to almost two grades down.
Dr. Katie Adolphus, the study’s lead researcher, said that skipping breakfast puts students at a disadvantage because they are not getting enough nutrition to fuel their brains for the day.
To conduct the study, the researchers surveyed 294 students aged 16 to 18 years old from schools in West Yorkshire, England. The students provided information about their age, ethnicity, height, weight, parents’ highest educational attainment, and secondary education GCSE grades. The participants also completed a week-long food diary. Finally, the researchers converted the students’ GCSE grades into points and totaled the scores across all subjects.
Currently, the English government runs a program that provides some free meals to schools, but it does not cover breakfast. Some charities try to provide breakfast, but not in all areas.
Because of this lack, charities funded by the Department of Education have established their own breakfast programs, in which they give free breakfast to more than 1,800 schools in the most socioeconomically deprived parts of the country.
According to the researchers, their study highlights the need to expand the country’s current free breakfast program to include every state school in England and to consider introducing a school breakfast legislation.