Jan. 29, 2020

The Importance of Breakfast for School-Age Kids

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

No matter how busy life gets, I’m one of those moms who always reminds my kids to eat breakfast before they start their day. Their earliest grade school mornings would always start with a hardy meal, which most often included eggs. They are always a go-to item because they provide protein to keep the kids fuelled all morning.

It turns out that the morning meal is definitely good for students. Studies show that kids who eat breakfast may have healthier diets overall, a lower body mass index, and may have an enhanced ability to focus on school tasks. That often leads to better academic success.

In Canada, not every child gets to eat breakfast before they head to school. Whether it’s due to food insecurity, poor food prep skills or a lack of time, the reality is that many kids arrive at school with a hungry tummy. Burnbrae Farms is proud to work in local communities with programs such as Toonies for Tummies , which help ensure that schools are equipped with well-funded breakfast programs to help kids get the best start to their day.

A recent study showed that children who are given a school breakfast have slightly healthier dietary intakes, and end up consuming more vegetables, fruit, fibre, whole grains, dairy and calcium. Another study showed that kids who eat breakfast perform better than breakfast-skippers on tasks requiring attention, executive function, and memory. For many kids, school is hard enough without having to worry about a rumbling tummy!

Breakfast literally means “to break the fast” of the previous 12 hours since your child’s last meal. Breakfast is meant to increase the level of blood glucose after a night’s rest, and supply constant levels of blood glucose to the brain, which are needed for regular brain activity and cognitive function.

The best way to do this isn’t with sugary breakfast food such as pre-sweetened cereal, pastries or donuts, but with a combination of high protein foods, such as eggs, and slow-release, high fibre carbohydrates such as fruit or oats. It seems that breakfast meals with more protein and fibre may have a better impact on memory -based tasks, but study results are weak so far (and studies are ongoing).

So, what you serve for breakfast matters – and eggs belong in schools! A 2016 study compared the effects of three different types of breakfast on appetite and energy intake at subsequent meals in children aged 8-10. The kids were either served eggs, cereal or oatmeal for breakfast. It turns out that the kids who had eggs for breakfast stayed full for longer and ate less at lunch compared to the kids who ate cereal or oatmeal, so that may help with weight control. It’s also easier to concentrate when your tummy isn’t rumbling mid-morning. The fullness was likely due to the satiating power of protein from the eggs. Cereal and oats can be fine options too – but not on their own. They need to be paired with protein to help properly fuel children.

In addition to protein, eggs provide 14 key nutrients that children need, including iron, folate and vitamins A, D and E. Our Naturegg omega-3 eggs are also a great choice for children, since they provide DHA, which is important for brain health.

It’s estimated that one in five Canadian children go to school hungry. We are so proud to financially support programs such as Toonies for Tummies, which feed over one million Canadian children to ensure they start the day with a balanced breakfast. If you see the Toonies for Tummies program at your local grocery store, please consider donating to this worthy cause.

When Canadians work together, we can create a brighter future for all children.

Margaret Hudson

President, Burnbrae Farms