News, Research and Development

UNSW study reveals breakfast impacts student success

New research from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) suggests a healthy breakfast is important for student motivation and achievement.

The university finding published recently in the Journal of School Psychology show that eating a healthy breakfast can lead to higher levels of motivation and achievement for students that day in school. Meanwhile, eating no breakfast at all can lower levels of motivation and achievement.

The study, which was funded by the Australian Research Council and The Future Project at The King’s School, also found that eating an unhealthy breakfast had a similar detrimental effect on motivation and achievement as eating no breakfast at all.

“Many students make less-than-ideal breakfast choices at the start of the school day or skip breakfast altogether,” said scientia professor Andrew Martin, lead author of the study and an educational psychologist from the School of Education at UNSW.

Martin said, “Our findings highlight that eating a healthy breakfast each and every morning improves student motivation and academic achievement.”

The research team studied 648 Australian high school students from five schools in New South Wales to investigate the role of breakfast consumption and quality on students’ self-reported science motivation and achievement in a science test.

The researchers found that students who ate a healthy breakfast the morning of the study were more motivated and achieved better test scores.

Meanwhile, students who ate an unhealthy breakfast or no breakfast that morning measured lower for motivation and scored lower in their science test, regardless of whether they usually ate a healthy or unhealthy breakfast or previously performed well on science tests.

“As you might expect, eating a healthy breakfast every day is good for students’ motivation and achievement while skipping breakfast is not so good,” said Martin.

UNSW researchers believe schools and the school system can better support students by offering a healthy breakfast option at school, including information about healthy breakfast in the curriculum, and communicating with parents at home about healthy breakfast ideas and strategies.

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