Kids break­fast skip a con­cern

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News - Su­sanne Reilly

STU­DENTS skip­ping break­fast not only af­fects school per­for­mance but has a link to their psy­cho­log­i­cal well­be­ing.

Food­bank Australia’s Hunger in the Class­room re­port sur­veyed teach­ers from across Australia and found three stu­dents per class­room were reg­u­larly ar­riv­ing to school hun­gry in the morn­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Food­bank, the pic­ture that emerged from the sur­vey was con­cern­ing, as teach­ers be­lieved a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of chil­dren were af­fected by the is­sue of hunger, which has wide-rang­ing and po­ten­tially long-term ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

Most of the teach­ers re­ported it was a habitual prob­lem and that the chil­dren who went to school hun­gry did so three times a week or more.

The teach­ers sur­veyed in­di­cated that more than half of the stu­dents who missed break­fast ex­pe­ri­enced learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties or ex­hib­ited be­havioural prob­lems.

Food­bank WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Greg Heb­ble said they had a school break­fast pro­gram which sup­ports more than 400 schools in WA.

“It’s easy to judge their par­ents, but we know from our broader food re­lief work that thou­sands of WA fam­i­lies have been do­ing it tough for a long time now and at the mo­ment it’s get­ting worse,” he said.

Dale Health prin­ci­pal psy­chol­o­gist Ali Dale said there were a num­ber of con­se­quences of miss­ing break­fast.

“This in­cludes a decline in school per­for­mance, mem­ory and abil­ity to stay on task in the class­room,” she said.

“This can set up a longer-term con­se­quence of low­ered school achieve­ment, and get­ting into trou­ble (with) teach­ers.”

Dr Dale said re­search also sug­gested that food made peo­ple feel good.

“Good-qual­ity food can cause the re­lease of feel-good chem­i­cals in the brain, which di­rectly im­pacts psy­cho­log­i­cal well­be­ing,” she said.

“As a longer-term con­se­quence, we also know that chil­dren who skip break­fast have a less healthy re­la­tion­ship with food, and are more likely to ex­pe­ri­ence a range of health is­sues, such as obe­sity, as they get older. Many of th­ese health prob­lems di­rectly af­fect psy­cho­log­i­cal well­be­ing, as well as phys­i­cal well­be­ing.”

Kellogg’s is part­nered with Food­bank to de­liver its break­fast pro­gram.

Se­nior brand manager Ja­nine Brooker said re­liev­ing hunger at break­fast for chil­dren and fam­i­lies in need was an is­sue close to her heart as a mother.

“Our re­la­tion­ship with Food­bank has seen mil­lions of serves of ce­real do­nated, and con­tri­bu­tion to­wards the open­ing of 33 new Food­bank School Break­fast Pro­gram clubs na­tion­ally this year,” she said.

Chil­dren tuck­ing into some break­fast be­fore lessons at school.

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