Washington: Children who have breakfast on a daily basis score significantly higher on full scale, verbal, and performance IQ tests, a new study has claimed.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in one of the first studies to examine Intelligence Quotient and breakfast consumption, examined data from 1,269 children six years old in China, where breakfast is highly valued.
The study found that children who did not eat breakfast egularly had 5.58 points lower verbal, 2.50 points lower performance, and 4.6 points lower total IQ scores than children who often or always ate breakfast.
"Childhood is a critical period in which dietary and lifestyle patterns are initiated, and these habits can have important immediate and long-term implications," said lead researcher Jianghong-Liu.
"Breakfast habits appear to be no exception, and irregular breakfast eating has already been associated with a number of unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking, frequent alcohol use, and infrequent exercise," Liu said in a statement.
At age 6, a child's cognitive ability as both the verbal and performance levels is rapidly developing. Both the nutritional and social aspects of breakfast play a role.
After a whole night of fasting, breakfast serves as a means to supply "fuel" to the brain.
Meanwhile, social interaction at breakfast time with parents may promote brain development. Mealtime discussions may facilitate cognitive development by offering children the opportunity to expand their vocabulary, practice synthesising and comprehending stories, and acquire general knowledge, noted the researchers.
The researchers suggested that schools play a role in stressing the importance of eating breakfast by delaying start times and/or providing breakfast to allow students to profit from the cognitive benefits of eating before a morning curriculum.
"Because adequate nutrition in early childhood has been linked to increased IQ through childhood, which is related to decreased childhood behavioural disorders, better career satisfaction, and socioeconomic success in adults, breakfast consumption could ultimately benefit long-term physical and mental health outcomes as well a quality of life," said Liu.
"These findings may reflect nutritional as well as social benefits of breakfast consumption on children and hold important public health implications regarding regular breakfast consumption in early young children.
The study was based on data collected from the China Jintan Child Cohort Study, an on-going prospective longitudinal study with the main aim of assessing the early health risk factors for the development of child neurobehavioural outcomes.>