A new article has been published by the Centre for Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) of Cardiff University on the links between dietary behaviours, including breakfast consumption, and educational outcomes in school-children, age 9 – 11.
The findings are particularly pertinent in light of rumours that free school meals may be scrapped following George Osborne’s November spending review.
The study showed that breakfast consumption, and the quality of foods eaten, were associated with better educational outcomes when data was collected at 18 and 6 month intervals prior to the Key Stage 2 Summative Teacher Assessments (STAs).
A major benefit of this study is the use of large national data sets, such as the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage Databank (SAIL) in Swansea. A substantial amount of existing literature focuses on links between breakfast eating behaviours and acute measures of concentration and memory, although the DECIPHer study is one of the largest studies to date examining longitudinal effects on standardised educational outcomes.
Linking education outcomes to health improvement may help schools to prioritise health, and to overcome challenges associated with perceptions that improving health and improving education are competing rather than complementary agendas.
The authors described a need for educational outcomes to be routinely measured by health improvement researchers in order to understand how schools might promote educational and health benefits simultaneously. Building this evidence could be vital in helping to align health improvement with the ‘core business’ of schools.’
The article was published by the Public Health and Nutrition Journal of Cambridge University Press’ Cambridge Journal Online (CJO) and can be accessed via the following link.
The study was funded via the National Preventive Research Initiative (http://www.npri.org.uk). Funding from the British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research UK; Department of Health; Diabetes UK; Economic and Social Research Council; Medical Research Council; Research and Development Office for the Northern Ireland Health and Social Services; Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Executive Health Department; The Stroke Association; Welsh Government; and World Cancer Research Fund is gratefully acknowledged.