29/09/2003

Healthy breakfast and school performance linked

Girls need a more satisfying breakfast than boys if they are to perform at their best in the classroom – a new University of Ulster (UU) study has revealed.

Dr Barbara Stewart, from the Northern Ireland Centre for Diet and Health at UU, led the research project, where pupils were fed a breakfast of toast or beans and toast and then tested on cognitive ability.

The researchers found that boys performed better on tests of attention and memory when they were a little hungry whilst girls performed better on the same tests when they were satiated.

“The link between having breakfast and performance at school or work is well established but this research suggests girls need a more satisfying breakfast than boys to perform at their best,” said Dr Stewart.

The research, which is due to be presented at the 9th European Nutrition Conference in Rome this week, also found that when cognitive tasks were made more complicated, participants eating beans on toast for breakfast performed better than their counterparts eating toast only.

“What this study shows is that cognitive performance maybe determined by a combination of factors not simply the type of breakfast consumed. We believe that although breakfast type is an important determining factor, it must be considered in relation to gender, mood and satiety," she said.

(gmcg)

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