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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.”

 

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