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Importance of Breakfast in Academic Success

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“Wakey, wakey! Eggs and Bac-ie!” Every time I think about breakfast, that little chant comes to mind. I have no idea why that comes to mind, because growing up I was never what some would call “a breakfast person”. I never had much of an appetite first thing in the morning, and grew up in a busy family that rarely found time in the morning rush to sit down over eggs and bacon unless it was for a more leisurely weekend brunch. Little did I know the importance of breakfast in academic success, I really would have been using my head had I  been filling my stomach in the mornings before studying, and using some of that same breakfast energy during weekend tutoring sessions to really spike my academic achievement. Chronically under-nourishing my body and depriving it of the most important meal of the day, I often had little energy during my study and tutoring sessions.   New research stresses why making time for breakfast is just as important as making room for vegetables, especially for studying.  There are widely accepted health benefits for all from eating breakfast that are even more important in young growing bodies. According to the Centers for Disease Control, not only is healthy, balanced eating important for optimal growth and development, it reduces the early risk for many ailments from obesity and iron deficiency to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.[i]   More specific to studying, there are well-documented positive impacts of breakfast on brain health and cognitive performance. The CDC further reports that “eating a healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function (especially memory), reduced absenteeism, and improved mood.”[ii]   Ohio State University performed research that utilized brain scans for evidence. They found that students who eat breakfast every day, and were physically active, had more focus in class and higher test scores.[iii] With their study of young people who do not eat breakfast, Ohio State professor Bob Murray, M.D. states, “now we know why they are not learning and what areas of the brain are really hindering that.”   These are examples at the forefront of the research and efforts in support of the importance of eating a healthy breakfast. A reference in the Food Research and Action Center’s report, “Breakfast for Learning” may best state the case made by this growing body of evidence. CE Basch writes, “an merging body of evidence is documenting the adverse effects of skipped breakfast on various aspects of cognitive performance: alertness, attention, memory, processing of complex visual display, problem solving, and mathematics.”[iv]   Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, every day, especially on the weekends, which are no longer reserved for leisurely brunches. Devoting the same mental energy breakfast provides on a weekday school morning to the more intense and focused studying of a weekend morning tutoring session optimizes the benefits gained throughout the week in preparation to maximize the next week’s efforts. Breakfast does more than feed your body and keep you healthy; it fuels your mind’s pursuits, especially focused tutoring efforts, and supports your studying success. As Tutor Troopers, we want your ultimate success. We strongly believe that fueling your body properly and giving it nutrients early in the day, can greatly help improve your mental acuity and academic performance. So, from Tutor Troops…bon apetit!

 

Contributed by Amber Cary, tutor at Tutor Troops

 

References [i] Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Nutrition and Health of Young People,” CDC – Nutrition – Facts –Adolescent and School Health, http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/nutrition/facts.htm. [iii] Daryl Nelson, “Breakfast for kids and academic performance: A closer look,” Consumer Affairs, May 9, 2013, http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/breakfast-for-kids-and-academi-performance-a-closer-look. [iv] CE Basch, “Breakfast and the Achievement Gap Among Urban Minority Youth,” Journal of School Health, 81, (10):635-640, quoted in Food Research and Action Center, Breakfast for Learning, 2014.