Breakfast: A Back-to-School Basic

Today’s post comes from Neva Cochran, MS, RD, LD. Cochran is a nutrition communications consultant, appearing regularly in national and local media to discuss nutrition topics. Cochran is a long-standing nutrition writer for Woman’s World Magazine as well as a member of ENC’s Health Professional Advisor panel.

With a new school year on the horizon, parents are busy buying school clothes, school supplies and backpacks to get their children off to the best possible start. Unfortunately, a key ingredient for school success is often missing from many parents’ back-to-school checklists: breakfast.  According to a 2010 survey by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 42% white, 59% African American and 42% Hispanic children are not eating breakfast every day.

Breakfast is essential to ensure children have an adequate nutritional intake and are fueled both physically and mentally. A multitude of studies attest to breakfast’s role in school performance and health:

  • In a study of 656 schoolchildren, those who ate breakfast regularly had better motor function skills and lower BMIs than children who skipped breakfast.
  • Additional research revealed hormonal changes stimulated by eating breakfast were associated with better mental performance compared to no breakfast.
  • School breakfast also improved daily nutrient intake, which was associated with better academic performance and psychosocial functioning in another study.
  • A Harvard School of Public Health report documented that children who eat breakfast are sick less often and have fewer absences and discipline problems.

So what can time-strapped parents do to make sure children eat breakfast before leaving for school? First and foremost, a little planning is essential. Having quick breakfast options available in the pantry and refrigerator makes it easier: eggs, yogurt, milk, fruit, whole grain breads and cereals and low-fat cheese. A meal with protein and fiber will promote satiety and keep children alert all morning long. Some great grab-and-go ideas:



• Hard-boiled egg-on-a-stick and low-fat yogurt mixed with frozen berries and dry cereal
• Orange sections, mozzarella string cheese and a slice of whole-wheat toast
• Whole wheat tortilla stuffed with a microwave cooked scrambled egg and low fat shredded cheese with a glass of orange juice


• Toasted frozen waffle layered with peanut butter and banana slices with a glass of fat-free chocolate milk



For more fast, easy, kid-friendly egg breakfast recipes, check out