Cereal makes the grade
Children who eat breakfast seem to fare better in the classroom.
A Tufts University study of Boston-area students ages 9 to 11 compared performance in the classroom of students who breakfasted on oatmeal and those who either chose cold cereal or skipped breakfast, says Sandy Procter, Kansas State University Research and Extension nutrition educator.
The students who ate oatmeal for breakfast were better able to perform in areas that require cognitive function. Math class is an example, she says.
"From a nutritional perspective, that should come as no surprise. As a whole grain and a complex carbohydrate, oatmeal is digested slowly. The delayed release of glucose provides lasting energy," says Procter, who is a registered dietitian and state coordinator for the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program.
Studies at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital also found that students who ate breakfast had improved math scores and were more likely to be on time, have regular attendance and exhibit fewer behavioral problems.
A Baylor College of Medicine study (in Houston, Texas), found that teens who ate breakfast consumed less fat during the day and also were more likely to meet two-thirds of the daily recommendations for vitamins and minerals, Procter says.
A traditional breakfast -- cereal, milk, and fruit or fruit juice -- need not be difficult to prepare, she says. Many hot cereals, which typically have a lower cost-per-serving, can be prepared quickly, either in the microwave or by mixing with boiling water.