By Chelsea Kingston ’17
Breakfast is widely known to be the most important meal of the day, but how many students actually eat it?
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, breakfast positively affects learning in children in terms of behavior, cognitive (memory and attention) skills, and school performance. The effects on cognitive skills are expected to be short term and effective the morning the meal is eaten.
Greater improvements in math scores, attendance, punctuality, depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity are also effects of eating breakfast, according to the Food Research and Action Center.
Alex Gomes ‘17 practices eating breakfast regularly. “I make it[breakfast] myself,” he said. Gomes’ breakfast usually consists of a toasted or plain buttered bagel and a cup of coffee with two tablespoons of sugar.
As for many other Midwood students, caffeine is a requirement to get through the day. At the start of classes, or a few minutes after the late bell, some students walk into class with Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts cups in hand.
“If I don’t have coffee, I don’t have as much energy as I usually do,” Gomes said. “So I risk getting late to school to either go to Starbucks or Caffe Bene.”
However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Dr. Marcie Beth Schneider states that coffee and energy drinks are beverages that children should eliminate from morning meals because caffeine raises blood pressure and heart rate in teens.
Habitually eating breakfast does not only affect behavior, cognitive skills, and school performance, but health as well.
According to AAP, a 2008 study in the journal, Pediatrics, found that teens who ate breakfast daily had a lower body mass index (BMI) than teens who skipped or never ate breakfast. BMI is the measure of body fat based on the height and weight of an individual.
In addition, the International Journal of Dental Hygiene has evidence that shows teens are almost twice as likely to suffer from bad breath when they skip breakfast.
“I ate breakfast regularly when I was younger,” said Guinevere Seaver ‘18. “It stopped when my parents stopped making breakfast for me. They would send me to school early so I can eat, since there’s not enough time in the morning, but now they don’t care what time I wake [up].”
That is one of the many excuses teenagers give to explain their skipping or lack of eating the most important meal of the day. Many teens are busy with homework, after-school activities, jobs, or taking care of siblings and don’t hit the haystack until after 11 p.m. They figure they should get as much sleep as possible, so they exchange the ten minutes it would take to eat breakfast for a longer connection to a pillow. Some also skip breakfast in order to control weight gain, which is not healthy or effective.
To eliminate stress in the morning, there are many meals that can be taken on the go during the rush to school. The AAP states granola bars, breakfast bars, dried fruit, fresh fruit, and dry cereal are good sources of carbohydrates, which give good energy.
Although the AAP states that dry cereal is good, many popular cereals are not. Kellogg’s cereals (Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Honey Smacks, etc.) and various Cap’n Crunch cereals (Original, Crunch Berries, Oops! All Berries, etc.) are some of the 10 worst cereals as reported by CBS News. These cereals contain more than 40 percent of sugar. In fact, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, which has “Good Source of VITAMIN D” running along the top of the box, contains 55.6 percent of sugar.
If students are unable to pick up something during their sprint, free breakfast is offered through NYC SchoolFood each school day during periods one to four. As stated on its website, http://www.schoolfoodnyc.org, the “monthly menus and water services are created to ensure that students receive the proper nutrients they need to think clearly, concentrate on learning, and perform better in class.” For example, one day the cafeteria would serve buttermilk pancakes with syrup and turkey sausage patty, including the Bagel Bar which is available everyday.
This may be a struggle for students who have lunch after fourth because the lunchroom no longer serves breakfast.
Some meals can also be prepared the night before so that students enjoy a less frantic morning.
“I really appreciate the school providing breakfast for us,” said Tanika Floyd ‘17. “Sometimes I don’t get to eat breakfast at home, so it is nice to have a substitute that I can depend on.”
“We should all make use of the resources given to us,” she concluded.