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Northumbria researchers advise government on breakfast clubs

Researchers at the University of Northumbria have been instrumental in the setting up of hundreds of school breakfast clubs across the UK resulting in a measurable increase in children’s attainment and quality of life.

Professor Greta Defeyter and her colleagues have investigated the effects of glycaemic index on children’s cognitive performance and the effect of breakfast club attendance on children’s behaviour, cognition and social friendships. Their findings have been translated into an on-line training program that has up-skilled teachers, governors, NHS Public Health Advisors and parent volunteers.

This training provision, the first of its kind in the UK, has resulted in the start-up of more than 200 breakfast clubs. Following the implementation of these breakfast clubs, teachers have reported gains in terms of school attendance, punctuality, motivation and quality of life of many of the children involved.

For one city council, Defeyter and her colleagues investigated the impact of providing free breakfast club provision. The findings convinced Blackpool Council to invest in breakfast clubs and it decided to fund universal free breakfast club provision for all primary school children in Blackpool for 2013-2014 at a cost of £1.3 million.

Professor Defeyter regularly advises government, industry and academia of the importance of breakfast clubs and is a member of several advisory panels including the All Party Parliamentary Group on School Food. “It is extremely rewarding to know that our research has informed the debate regarding the importance of school breakfast clubs,” said Prof Defeyter. “I hope that more schools in the UK set up breakfast clubs and I am pleased that our research findings are now being considered in underpinning school breakfast clubs in Europe.”


A Literature Review on the Effects of Breakfast Consumption and School Breakfast Clubs

A review of the academic literature that has been published on children’s breakfast consumption and the impact of school breakfast clubs on children’s diet, health, and educational success. 

Published by Feeding Britain, 2020 


Universal free school breakfast: A qualitative process evaluation according to the perspectives of senior stakeholders

This study assessed senior stakeholder views on the processes and potential outcomes on different groups, within the communities served by school breakfast programmes.  

Published in Public Health Frontiers, 2016. 


Breakfast clubs: Starting the day in a positive way

A study of directly observed children's behaviour within breakfast club settings to devise a set of observational criteria and investigate the occurrence of positive and negative behaviours. 

Published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2015. 


More than just a meal: Breakfast club attendance and children’s social relationships

An investigation of attendance at breakfast clubs and after school clubs to assess their impact on children's friendship quality and experiences of peer victimisation. 

Published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2015. 


The advantages and disadvantages of breakfast clubs according to parents, children and school staff in the North East of England, UK 

An investigation into the views of parents, children and school staff on school breakfast clubs. 

Published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2015. 


Universal free school breakfast: a qualitative model for breakfast behaviours

A study to investigate the beliefs, views and attitudes, and breakfast consumption behaviours among key stakeholders served by a council-wide universal free school breakfast initiative in the North West of England. 

Published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2015. 

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