Research Articles

Below are important facts from research articles that support the Child Nutrition Outreach Program belief that eating school breakfast is beneficial to student academic improvement and overall health. Please use these to help increase support for school breakfast!


Food Research and Action Center: Breakfast for Learning, Spring 2014

This brief was prepared by FRAC's Madeleine Levin, MPH, Senior Policy Analyst.

Important Points

  • Skipping Breakfast and Experiencing Hunger Impair Children's Ability to Learn
  • Eating Breakfast At School Helps Improve Children's Academic Performance
  • School Breakfast Improves Student Behavior and Learning Environments 
  • Breakfast in the Classroom Programs and Programs Offering Breakfast Free to All in the Cafeteria Yield Other Positive Results
  • School Breakfast Can Improve Children's Nutrition and Protect Against Obesity
  • School Breakfast Decreases The Risk of Food Insecurity 



Food Research and Action Center: Breakfast for Health, Spring 2014

This brief was prepared by FRAC's Heather Hartline-Grafton, DrPH, RD, Senior Nutrition Policy and Research Analyst.

Important Points

  • School Breakfast participants are more likely to consume diets that are adequate or exceed standards for important vitamins and minerals.
  • Low-income children who eat school breakfast have better overall diet quality than those who eat breakfast elsewhere or skip breakfast.
  • School breakfast participation is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI, an indicator of excess body fat), lower probability of overweight, and lower probability of obesity.
  • Food insecurity is associated with some of the most costly health problems in the U.S., including diabetes, heart disease, and depression.

Smoking, Physical Activity and Breakfast Consumption among Secondary School Students in a Southwestern Ontario Community

 Cohen, B., Evers, S., Manske, S., Bercovitz, K., & Edward, H. G. (2003). Smoking, physical activity and breakfast consumption among secondary school students in a southwestern Ontario community. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 94(1), 41-44.

Important Points

  • Daily breakfast consumption is important because individuals who do not eat breakfast are less likely to meet their daily nutrient requirements.
  • Missing breakfast was more common among girls and in higher grades rose from 44.9% in grade 9 to 65.3% in grade 12.
  • Students who ate breakfast daily were more likely to participate in physical activity three or more times a week compared to those who didn’t eat breakfast.
  • A higher proportion of girls who were concerned about gaining weight were more likely to skip breakfast.

The Relationship of School Breakfast to Psychosocial and Academic Functioning: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Observations in an Inner-City School Sample

Murphy, J. M., Pagano, M. E., Nachmani, J., Sperling, P., Kane, S., & Kleinman, R. E. (1998). The relationship of school breakfast to psychosocial and academic functioning: cross-sectional and longitudinal observations in an inner-city school sample. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 152(9), 899-907.

Important Points

  • Students who increased their participation in school breakfast were significantly more likely to increase their math grades.
  • Students who increased school breakfast participation decreased their rate of school absences and were late to school significantly fewer days.
  • Students who increased their school breakfast participation scored lower when tested for anxiety and depression, and significantly lower when tested for hyperactivity than students whose school breakfast participation stayed the same or decreased.

Diet, Breakfast, and Academic Performance in Children. 

Kleinman RE, Hall S, Green H, Korzec-Ramirez D, Patton K, Pagano ME, Murphy JM. Diet, breakfast, and academic performance in children. Ann Nutr Metab. 2002;46 Suppl 1:24–30.

Important Points

  • Participation in a school breakfast program enhanced daily nutrient intake, and improvements in nutrient intake were associated with significant improvements in student academic performance and psychosocial functioning and decreases in hunger.
  • Children who improved their nutrient intake significantly decreased the number of days in which they were absent.
  • Students who increased their nutrient intake after the start of a free school breakfast program were more likely to improve their nutrient intake status and academic and psychosocial functioning.

School Breakfast Participation is Directly Correlated with Higher MCAS Scores among Elementary School Students

School Breakfast Pre-Study, Center for Social Policy, UMass Boston, Report to Project Bread, 2005.

Important Points

  • In all cases, a participation rate of 80-100 percent in the School Breakfast Program results in significantly higher MCAS scores than participation at lower levels.

Feeding Our Future: The First and Second Year Evaluation

Muthuswamy, Easwaramoorthy. (2012). Feeding Our Future: The First- And Second-Year Evaluation. Research & Information Services, Toronto District School Board.

Important Points

  • Grade 7 and 8 students who ate morning meals most days in a school week achieved better results on their learning skills (i.e., excellent or good) compared to those students who ate in the morning on only one to two days or who never ate in the morning.
  • The information from report card data for the Grade 7 and 8 students shows significant differences in the case of Reading, where 61% of students who ate the morning meal on most days in a school week achieved or exceeded the provincial standard compared to half (50%) of the students who ate morning meals on only a few days or not at all.
  • Fewer students (28%) who ate morning meals at least three days in a school week were at-risk in Science, compared to nearly half (44%) of those students who ate morning meals only one to two days or who never ate them.
  • Students who ate morning meals on most days during a school week were less likely to be suspended and more likely to come to school regularly.