Background: Breakfast is often thought to be the most important meal of the day as it is known to provide energy for the brain and improve learning. It is also known to contribute significantly to the total daily energy and nutrient intake. Skipping breakfast may affect performance during the rest of the day.
Aim: To determine the level of breakfast skipping among medical students and its effect on their attention span and level of fatigue during clinical sessions.
Design: A descriptive cross-sectional study of breakfast eating habits among medical students at the University of Ghana Medical School, Korle Bu-Accra.
Setting: The University of Ghana Medical School, Korle Bu-Accra.
Method: Questionnaires were distributed to second year (pre-clinical) medical students studying the basic sciences and clinical students in ophthalmology to be self-administered. Interview data was captured and analyzed using SPSS version 17.0.
Results: The total number of pre-clinical students recruited was 154 and clinical students 163 bringing to a total of 317 students made up of 203 males and 114 females (M: F=1.8:1). The overall breakfast skipping among the students was 71.92%. The prevalence among the pre-clinical students was 76.62% and clinical students 67.48%. Generally, breakfast skipping was significantly related to fatigue and poor attention during clinical sessions.
Conclusion: This study suggests that the medical students, both pre-clinical and clinical, skip breakfast and this may affect their studies adversely.
Keywords: attention span; breakfast habits; breakfast skipping; fatigue; medical students.