What to Read Next

Breakfast program boosts student brains, according to study

Carolyn Morris
Shine On
May 14, 2012

Breakfast for the brain. A new evaluation of Toronto's school breakfast program shows a link between a morning meal and performance at school

"Providing students with a healthy breakfast every morning improved their academic performance, behaviour, attendance and health," says Sandra Best, a director of the Toronto Foundation for Student Success, which co-produced the study with the Toronto District School Board.

The research was an evaluation of Toronto's Feeding Our Future program, which began providing free morning meals to students in four Toronto middle schools and three Toronto high schools in 2008.

Also see: Mother's loving tribute to son born with bilateral cleft palate

The program was launched after the school board discovered that a majority of kids in Toronto's Jane and Finch neighbourhood were going to school daily on an empty stomach. With prior research showing that kids who get a good meal in the morning do better at school, the Toronto Foundation for Student Success got to work filling those stomachs.

The study evaluated the impact the breakfast program had on the health, behaviour and achievement of 6,000 students over a two-year period.

Interviews suggested that students improved their behaviour, were late less often, and more able to focus on their work. And researchers compared academic results of those who reported eating breakfast three or more times a week with those who didn't.

"We learned that there is a significant gap in learning, achievement and health between students who eat a healthy breakfast every day and those who do not," says Best. "Students who don't eat breakfast are twice as likely to be struggling in reading and twice as likely to be struggling in science."

They found that 78 per cent of breakfast-eating high school students were set to graduate, versus only 61 per cent of high school students who don't eat proper morning meals.

Also see: 'Social jetlag' sleep loss can cause unhealthy drinking, eating habits

But without a control group, these comparisons, while compelling, are not entirely convincing. It's hard to tell whether the results are caused by the morning meal, or by other potential factors.

For example, those who declined a free breakfast might also be more less likely to work on a homework assignment. Or perhaps kids who took a free breakfast did so because their parents emphasize the importance of breakfast -- which in turn, might indicate that their parents are more involved in their academic performance, pushing them to get good grades.

That said, denying children breakfast in the name of a good scientific control group might be a tad unethical.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Foundation for Student Success is hoping this research will help spread the word about the importance of food programs for students. If it helps more kids attain better results at school, hopefully that will translate to better jobs later on and a boost for the economy. Which would justify the expense of the programs.

"Student nutrition programs are under-funded," says Best. "There needs to be a larger, national conversation about their impact on long-term health care costs and the economy."

Watch the CBC news report on the Toronto study linking breakfast with academic success.

Powerful Tactical Flashlight Flying Off Shelves!

This new tactical flashlight was just released to the public and is flying off shelves in the United States. Limited supplies left, act quick!

Read This Before You Buy Medigap Plan F

Plan F is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan, but there's another Medigap option you should consider.

Starwood Credit Card

Earn 25,000 Bonus Starpoints®! Use toward Award Nights or Flights.

Is your insurance comp Laughing Behind Your Back?

New Studies Show that if you drive less than 55 miles a day you can save a ton on auto insurance.

Stop Paying Too Much For Your Prescriptions.

Drug prices vary wildly between pharmacies. GoodRx finds the lowest prices and discounts. Compare prices, print free coupons & save up to 80%.

Why You Should Pay Attention to Free Sample Sites

Sign up now for freebies so good you will feel guilty not paying for them! No credit card or purchase necessary.

Kid sleep troubles email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track to learn how to handle kids who won’t go to sleep or won’t stay in bed.

Gerber Life Grow-Up Plan

Insurance coverage for your child? It is affordable and simple to set up! Just click here to find out more from Gerber Life!

Attn Home Owners Who Never Miss a Payment.

Home Owners who have not missed a payment in 3 years or more need to read this. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home there is a solution.

You'll Be Dancing With This Magical Disney Offer!

Get 4 Disney Movies For $1 With Membership. See Details. Exclusive Titles, Merchandise, Offers & Discounts. Plus, Free Shipping On Your Initial Order!

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Shop Bedroom Furniture for Less at Walmart

Walmart offers a one-stop shopping destination for all your furniture needs. Save money. Live better.

How To Make Sagging Skin Look Tight and Lifted

[Watch] The easy and effective way consumers across the country are improving the look of their wrinkled and sagging skin without cosmetic procedures.

Reconnect With Your High School Friends

Classmates® has the largest directory of high school class lists. Remember the good times and reconnect to create new memories.