Evaluation Of Primary School Free Breakfast Initiative

Lead Investigator: Prof Simon Murphy

Background

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 and 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

‘Primary School Free Breakfast Initiative’ page on Welsh Government website (May 2006)

Murphy S, Moore G, Tapper K, Lynch R, Clarke R, Raisanen L, Desousa C, Moore L. ‘Free healthy breakfasts in primary schools: a cluster randomised controlled trial of a policy intervention in Wales, UK’. Public Health Nutrition 2011,14(2):219-226.

Tapper K, Murphy S, Lynch R, Clark R, Moore G, Moore L. ‘Development of a scale to measure 9-11-year-olds’ attitudes towards breakfast’. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition2008, 62(4):511-518.

Moore H, Tapper K, Murphy S, Lynch R, Pimm C, Raisanen L, Moore L. ‘Associations between deprivation, attitudes towards eating breakfast and breakfast eating behaviours in 9-11 year olds’. Public Health Nutrition 2007, 10(6):582-589.

Tapper K, Murphy S, Moore L, Lynch R, Clark R. ‘Evaluating the Free School Breakfast Initiative in Wales: Methodological issues’. British Food Journal2007, 109(3):206-215.

Moore G, Tapper K, Murphy S, Clark R, Lynch R, Moore L. ‘Validation of a self completion measure of breakfast foods, snacks and fruits and vegetables consumed by 9-11 year old schoolchildren.’ European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007, 61(3):420-30

Moore L, Moore G, Tapper K, Lynch R, Desousa C, Hale J, Roberts C, Murphy S. ‘Free breakfasts in schools: design and conduct of a cluster randomised controlled trial of the Primary School Free Breakfast Initiative in Wales’. BMC Public Health2007, 7: 258

Start date

August 2004

End date

August 2007

Amount

£236,694 (2004 – 2006) £259,488 (2005 – 2007)

Trial register number

ISRCTN18336527

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