Study: Adolescents get boost from breakfast

by Eric Schroeder
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TYNE, UNITED KINGDOM — Adolescents who consume ready-to-eat breakfast cereal in the morning are “more alert, satiated and content” than those who don’t eat breakfast, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Northumbria and University of Essex in the United Kingdom.

The study, “The effect of breakfast cereal consumption on adolescents’ cognitive performance and mood,” was published in the November issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. In addition to improved mood, the study found some positives related to cognitive performance.

As part of the study, which was funded by the Kellogg Co., researchers examined 40 adolescents aged 13 to 15 years old at an inner-city high school in the northeast of England. The participants were given either 35 grams of All-Bran cereal and 125 ml of skimmed milk or no breakfast. The participants were tested prior to consumption of breakfast and then 120 minutes after consumption.

Cognitive load was examined by varying the level of difficulty of a series of tasks tapping memory, attention and executive functions. Mood was measured with Bond-Lader scales as well as measures of thirst, hunger and satiety at each test session both at baseline and after the completion of each test battery.

“Overall it appeared that following breakfast participants felt more alert, satiated and content,” the researchers said. “Following breakfast consumption there was evidence for improved cognitive performance across the school morning compared to breakfast omission in some tasks (e.g., Hard Word Recall, Serial 3’s and Serial 7’s). However, whilst participants performance on the hard version of each cognitive task was significantly poorer compared to the corresponding easy version, there was limited evidence to support the hypothesis that the effect of breakfast was greater in the more demanding versions of the tasks.”

The researchers said they looked specifically at adolescents because of the age group’s rapid period of growth, complexity of academic work, tendency to skip breakfast and ratio of brain size to body weight.
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