Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Breakfast Good For Children's Brains

What you eat for breakfast can impact on attention span and memory, according to a new study.

Researchers at Northumbria University looked at whether the Glycaemic Index (GI) of breakfast cereals makes any difference to children’s attention and memory. GI is the rate at which glucose from the food we eat enters the bloodstream and is delivered to the brain.

Researchers tested children aged between 6 and 11 in selected schools across the North East. All of the children were given breakfast, but some were given Coco Pops – a high GI cereal, and some were given All-Bran – a low GI cereal. The children’s attention and memory were tested at regular intervals throughout the morning, and compared.

PhD student Jeanet Ingwersen, who led the study, said: “We found that, overall, children’s performance deteriorated throughout the morning as would be expected. More interestingly however, we also found that on certain measures of attention and memory, children showed lower levels of decline in their performance after having eaten All-Bran for breakfast compared to Coco Pops. “In other words, overall, as blood sugar levels go down, the brain runs out of fuel and children’s performance deteriorates over the morning. However, if children eat a low GI breakfast, the brain’s supply of glucose lasts for longer, and hence performance does not deteriorate as quickly.”

Ms Ingwersen added: “The message for parents, then, is that some breakfast is better than no breakfast, but if you can give your child a low GI breakfast, that is even better. Just like it makes sense to fill the car up with fuel before a long journey, it also makes sense that you use the right fuel. Similarly, it makes sense to start your child’s day with the right kind of food, and the right kind of fuel for their brain.” The research team also plans to continue the breakfast study in labs at Northumbria University during school holidays, and any parents who are interested in allowing their children to take part should contact Jeanet Ingwersen on 0191 227 7253 or email

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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