Breakfast Intake and Composition Is Associated with Superior Academic Achievement in Elementary Schoolchildren

J Am Coll Nutr. 2016 May-Jun;35(4):326-33. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2015.1048381. Epub 2015 Dec 23.


Objective: To determine whether breakfast consumption or content affects academic achievement measured by standardized tests.

Methods: Baseline data were collected in fall of 2011 from 698 students (50.5% female, age = 7.5 ± 0.6 years) living in the state of Kansas. Academic achievement was assessed using 3 components from the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-III). Prior to taking the WIAT-III, participants completed a breakfast recall of all foods and drinks consumed that morning, which was analyzed using Nutrition Data System for Research (NDS-R). WIAT-III scores were compared between breakfast and non-breakfast consumers in a sample (n = 162) matched for age, sex, race, education level of both parents, household income, body mass index (BMI), and cardiovascular fitness, and Pearson correlations were calculated from all breakfast eaters (n = 617) between test performance and components of the breakfast.

Results: When compared to non-breakfast consumers, the breakfast consumers had significantly higher scores in all 3 WIAT-III components (all p < 0.05). In breakfast consumers, servings of fruit juice were negatively correlated with reading comprehension and fluency standard score and mathematics standard score (both p < 0.0001), and greater servings of whole grains were significantly related to higher scores in reading comprehension and fluency and mathematics (both p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Both breakfast consumption and the content may be associated with improved standardized test performance in elementary school students.

Keywords: academic achievement; breakfast; children; diet; elementary school.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Breakfast*
  • Child
  • Edible Grain
  • Educational Status*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Fruit and Vegetable Juices
  • Humans
  • Kansas
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Reading