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1.6 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Nutrition, Dietetics


Cognitive performance in children and whether this can be improved by nutritional means is an area of investigation fraught with experimental challenges, making it difficult to draw useful conclusions. Hoyland et al. (1) have here provided a much-needed systematic review of the evidence on the specific question of the effects of breakfast on children’s cognitive performance and, unsurprisingly, have concluded that the effects are generally positive, most clearly shown for memory and attention tasks and most easily demonstrated in nutritionally vulnerable children. However, the benefits of food before schoolwork are not necessarily purely, or even mostly, physiological; they could be due to some other factors associated with the meal provision, such as improved motivation to learn due to the reduction of hunger, or better attendance when the breakfast is provided at school.