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J Nutr. 1995 Apr;125(4):894-900.

School breakfast improves verbal fluency in undernourished Jamaican children.

Author information

1
Tropical Metabolism Research Unit, University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston, Jamaica.

Abstract

School feeding programs exist in many countries, but few have been properly evaluated. In this study, the short-term effects of breakfast on children's cognitive functions were examined. The subjects were 97 undernourished (weight-for-age < or = -1 SD of reference) and 100 adequately nourished (weight-for-age > -1 SD) children in four primary schools in rural Jamaica. The children were randomly assigned to a group provided with breakfast or a group given a quarter of an orange as a placebo, and then given a battery of four cognitive function tests. After a few weeks the treatments were reversed and the tests repeated. Undernourished children's performance improved significantly on a test of verbal fluency when they received breakfast, whereas that of the adequately nourished children did not change (breakfast x group interaction, P < 0.05). There were no other effects of breakfast on test scores. The findings extend those of a previous Jamaican study conducted under more controlled conditions, and support the targeting of school meals to undernourished children.

PMID:
7722692
DOI:
10.1093/jn/125.4.894
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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