One strategy for examining effects of nutrients on cognitive function is to initially investigate foods that contain many different nutrients. If effects are demonstrated with these foods then further studies can address the role of specific nutrients. Breakfast foods (e.g., cereals, dairy products and fruit) provide many important nutrients and consumption of breakfast has been shown to be associated with beneficial effects on cognitive function. Isolating effects of specific constituents of breakfast has proved more difficult and it is still unclear what impact breakfast has on real-life performance. The present study provided initial information on associations between breakfast consumption and cognitive failures and accidents. A second aim was to examine associations between consumption of snacks which are often perceived as being unhealthy (chocolate, crisps and biscuits). A sample of over 800 nurses took part in the study. The results showed that frequency of breakfast consumption (varied breakfasts: 62% cereal) was associated with lower stress, fewer cognitive failures, injuries and accidents at work. In contrast, snacking on crisps, chocolate and biscuits was associated with higher stress, more cognitive failures and more injuries outside of work. Further research requires intervention studies to provide a clearer profile of causality and underlying mechanisms.
Keywords: breakfast; accidents; cognitive failures; injuries; snacking; stress.