Does eating breakfast improve school performance?


As I was growing up my mom always told me to eat a good breakfast before school, especially on test days. Many people skip breakfast even though we hear “it’s the most important meal of the day” all the time. Does breakfast in fact improve performance in school?

Many studies have been done to test whether breakfast impacts children’s performance. In almost every experiment, breakfast has proved to have a positive impact on a child’s ability to take tests, to learn, and to stay focused. For example, Harvard did an experiment with children of the same learning capabilities. Some children had a good and healthy breakfast, and the others did not and then they were given an assessment. It was randomized to determine which children ate and which did not. The Harvard researchers found that the children that ate breakfast were “…significantly more attentive in the classroom, earned higher grades in math, and had significantly fewer behavioral and emotional problems” (Kleinman). They also found that children who were hungry were very distracted and had behavioral problems. It makes the children very agitated.

The study involved 133 students and followed their behavior for four months. At the school, they started a free breakfast program in the morning. In the beginning, only about one third of the students ate breakfast at all, and by the end, two thirds of the students were eating breakfast often. These students showed better math grades, better attendance, and decreased anxiety. The School Breakfast Program was established in schools all over the country to increase the number of kids eating breakfast, therefore, improving school performance. (Kleinman).

So is eating breakfast a cause of better school performance or just a correlation? I think it causes better performance. With the data collected, it shows that the vast majority has improved performance after eating breakfast. If someone who does not eat breakfast increases performance, or someone who eats breakfast decreases performance, it is due to chance. Therefore, it is best to eat breakfast in the morning and start your day properly!


Kleinman, R. New Harvard research shows school breakfast program may improve children’s behavior and performance. KidSource Online. Web. 09 Oct. 2014.

“Does Eating Breakfast Help You Do Better in School? Ask a Psychologist.” About. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2014.

“Does Eating Breakfast Affect Children’s Learning?” Healthy Eating. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2014.

4 thoughts on “Does eating breakfast improve school performance?

  1. Paige Loyer

    Throughout high school, I always made sure I woke up early and made myself a nice breakfast before I started my day. I found that when I didn’t eat breakfast, I was constantly thinking about my empty stomach throughout the day and could not stop thinking about my next meal about 5 periods later. I agree that not eating breakfast causes a distraction and really does effect school performance. Now that I am here at college it is not as easy to wake up for that 8 am because I cannot sleep at night, but I always manage to have a granola bar and a fruit cup to hold me over. I find that on mornings when I do not eat my breakfast, I am struggling to focus in my Econ class. As Chloe said, this leaves me wondering if eating breakfast effects adults. Does it make their performance at work better too? I believe it would, because breakfast has so many perks and it is known as, ” the most important meal of the day.” I wonder if what you eat has a different effect on your performance. Do you think one who eats a waffle with some syrup (which really has no nutritional value) will preform differently than one who has some fruit, yogurt and eggs; things along that nature?

  2. Ann

    Speaking on a health standpoint about breakfast, an article in Forbes magazine recently stated that those who skipped breakfast and those who ate it had little difference in resting metabolic rate, cholesterol, and blood glucose. However, another study showed that the cardiovascular system was worse in those who skipped breakfast. So, in the short term skipping breakfast is not so bad for your health, but I guess if you’re looking for longevity and to do better in school then eat breakfast. Who doesn’t like a big waffle and some eggs anyway?

  3. Katherine Jane Ballantyne

    Maybe another reasons that causes a correlation between the two could be that people who eat breakfast in the mornings are technically “rule-followers.” They might be more likely to follow the rules of their parents when they say, “eat breakfast,” and “study for math class.” Therefore, they do what they’re supposed to, so students who eat breakfast more happen to do better in class for reasons such as this. Just a thought; I’m trying to think about more causes! Besides, I did not mind using a test as an excuse to get a nice homemade breakfast from my dad during high school.

  4. Chloe Atherton Cullen

    I’ve also heard this said many different times. I feel like it comes up all the time in elementary and middle school – when most kids have time to eat breakfast – but before my own 8 am today I didn’t grab anything to eat. Children have a lot of energy to begin, but adults might not. How does this same theory affect adults? It’s possible most adults don’t want to be told they have to adjust their already busy morning routine to add more nutrition besides a cup of coffee, but I think it would be really interesting to see if breakfast has the same effect on adults even though their brains aren’t developing or requiring as much energy throughout the day. I can’t quite tell if the audience of this paper is geared toward college students, but feel free to check it out:

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