Does eating breakfast make you smarter?


| 3 Comments
All over the cafeteria, signs are posted reading "Students who eat breakfast get better grades." However, I was curious as to how these two separate events were correlated. Does eating breakfast actually make people smarter? It's possible that smart students are more likely to eat breakfast, that eating breakfast causes students to perform better, that there is a third variable involved somewhere or that this correlation is due simply to chance. 
student eating breakfast.jpg
study conducted by the University of Kentucky was designed to test whether grades and breakfast were actually positively correlated. According to the University of Kentucky website, the purposed of the experiment was to test whether breakfast consumption affected a college student's GPA. The student, Ashley Smith, who conducted the experiment collected data from 251 undergraduate students, 106 males and 145 females, at the university. Though she did not report whether this experiment was observational or experimental, Smith reported that "those who ate breakfast had a higher GPA than those who did not." This study illustrates that eating breakfast is beneficial for a student's grades, but does not clarify the correlation.
I was unable to find any other information on the subject matter from legitimate sources, and thought this would definitely be an interesting study for someone to conduct. If the researchers used a simple random sample to collect participants, they could randomly divide both the men and women into a control and experimental treatment group, where they would eat breakfast or not eat breakfast. Then, after a certain period of time, determine the GPA of the students. Since it would be a randomized and single-blind experiment, this would be able to rule out the possibility of a confounding variable.
So what do you think? Does eating breakfast actually make you smarter, do smart people eat breakfast, or is there a confounding variable?

3 Comments

First off the study should probably not be on college students unless it is done by major. If they are taking wildly different classes then it really kills the ability to fairly measure the effect on GPA. The eating or not eating breakfast should be the only variable being manipulated in order to get the most accurate response. You also would need to make sure everyone is getting the same amount of sleep. Reverse causation does seem to be somewhat plausible. Skipping meals can be associated with difficulty with weight gain or loss. You also might overeat at lunch and dinner. This seems like a question that could definitely be answered but it would need many more controls than there were in the study here.

This, to me, seems like a question that can only be satifactorily answered as an experimental one. Where we randomly assigned students to breakfast and non-breakfast group, then measure their grades. A less satisfactory but simpler method would be maybe to compare scores from two different countries with similar standards of living, which have different eating cultures. e.g. don't eat breakfast as we understand it here. Is there such an ideal country?

I always heard this saying growing up and I just kind of believed it because that's what people told me. I never really thought about how breakfast could literally make a person smarter. In my opinion, eating breakfast probably doesn't actually make them more intelligent. I think it just makes people more alert and focused. The brain needs food to keep it running so it makes sense that eating a mean in the morning could lead to a better functioning brain that day. As for raising IQ's, I don't think breakfast will help, but I think eating breakfast will lead to a more productive day at school or work.

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