Novel School-Based Strategies to Improve Participation in the School Breakfast Program, Diet Quality, and Cognitive Performance in Adolescents
Observational evidence links breakfast skipping, a behavior frequently observed among adolescents, with other poor health related behaviors that perpetuates a lifestyle associated with poor weight management and decreased cognitive performance. Furthermore, evidence suggests that both the consumption of breakfast and the quality of breakfast consumed may influence both weight and cognitive performance related outcomes. In an effort to improve the prevalence of breakfast consumption and the quality of breakfasts consumed among adolescents, recent initiatives have sought to increase participation in the federal School Breakfast Program (SBP).
The main objectives of this dissertation were to determine: 1) whether the habitual consumption of breakfast influences perceived appetite following the consumption of breakfast and whether habitual breakfast consumption influences post prandial appetitive sensations following the consumption of breakfasts varying in macronutrient distribution; 2) the feasibility of consuming an egg-based, ‘Breakfast in the Classroom’ (BIC) program in 8th grade students and whether the daily consumption of egg-based breakfasts improve School Breakfast Program participation, the quality of breakfasts consumed, and snacking behavior in 8th grade students; and 3) whether differences in cognitive performance exist between 6th-8th grade students who consume school breakfast, students who consume breakfast at home only, and students who skip breakfast following the initiation of a higher-protein Breakfast in the Classroom program.
This dissertation is organized into chapters that consist of published manuscripts or manuscripts formatted for submission to peer-reviewed journals. Chapter 2 consists of comprehensive review of the evidence linking breakfast consumption and composition to obesity and cognitive performance with an emphasis on the recent advances in school breakfast programs and future directions. Chapter 3 evaluates whether the habitual consumption of breakfast influences perceived appetite following the consumption of breakfast and whether habitual breakfast consumption influences postprandial appetitive sensations following the consumption of breakfasts varying in macronutrient distribution. Chapter 4 examines the feasibility of implementing an egg-based BIC program and subsequent effects on SBP participation, the quality of breakfasts consumed, and evening snacking in 8th grade students. Chapter 5 examines differences in cognitive performance between 6th-8th grade students who consume school breakfast, students who consume breakfast at home only, and students who skip breakfast following a higher-protein BIC. Chapter 6 summarizes the main findings and presents considerations for future research.
Collectively, the findings from this dissertation demonstrate:1) consuming 30 grams of protein at breakfast improves appetite and satiety compared to a breakfast containing 15 grams of protein, independent of habitual breakfast consumption in overweight adolescent females; 2) implementing a universally-free ‘Breakfast in the Classroom’ program that serves two additional eggs to a traditional school breakfast served via a traditional SBP is feasible and improves SBP participation, the quality of breakfast consumed, and reduces unhealthy evening snacking; and 3) students who consume breakfast at school, as part of a higher-protein BIC program, perform better on tasks assessing cognitive flexibility and executive function in middle school students when compared to students who skip breakfast, regardless of key behavioral and/or socioeconomic factors. Thus, this work suggests increasing protein content of school breakfasts using a universally-free distribution program is feasible and may provide benefits on overall diet quality and cognitive performance for 6th-8th grade students.