Evaluation of Primary School Free Breakfast Initiative

Lead investigator
Prof. Simon Murphy, Cardiff University

Skipping breakfast is associated with numerous adverse short-term health outcomes, and links to long-term chronic disease risk (including  type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease). The Welsh Assembly Government is working to improve the health and well-being of children and young people in Wales. Part of this strategy is the Primary School Free Breakfast Initiative, which provides free, healthy breakfasts to primary school children throughout Wales.

Aims & objectives
Evaluate Primary School Free Breakfast Initiative in schools throughout Wales.
Study design

Cluster randomised controlled trial.

First phase
  • Randomised controlled trial conducted with 58 schools located in nine different regions in Wales.
  • Key outcomes measured, including: diet, breakfast eating habits, cognitive function, classroom behaviour and school attendance.
  • Data collected at baseline, four months and 12 months in all intervention and control schools.
  • Effect of breakfast provision on children’s concentration, memory, behaviour, attitudes towards eating breakfast and dietary intake studied.
Second phase
  • Evaluation of roll-out of the Primary School Free Breakfast Scheme as it moves from Community First areas to other areas throughout Wales.
  • 53 further schools recruited. Same research design, extending the sample size and allowing wider comparative analyses of the relative effects of the intervention in children from differing social backgrounds.
  • Approximately 4500 children completed measures of memory and concentration, as well as questionnaires on attitudes towards eating breakfast and dietary intake. Information also collected relating to smaller sub-samples, with details provided by teachers, parents and children on factors such as classroom behaviour and morning routines, as well as more in-depth information on dietary intake.
Further information & publications
Start date
August 2004
End date
August 2007
£236,694 (2004 – 2006) £259,488 (2005 – 2007)
Trial register number