05 August 2008

Students and Breakfast

Many years ago, when I had a brief stint as a school physician of a well-known school in Makati City, I often had so many elementary and high school students coming in the clinic because of headaches. The timing ranged from 2 to 3 hours before noon time. I was puzzled at first, but later on, I found out the reason why --- these students failed to eat their breakfasts.

You know the story. Their alarm clocks or their mothers try to wake them up. They ignore those and continue to sleep, hoping to buy even as little as 5 or 10 more minutes of sleeping time. Breakfast is served but ignored, because these sleepy students would rather spend time dozing off than eat their breakfasts. They go to school minus a decent breakfast. Result? Headaches during classes.

Rather than give them painkillers, I tell them to head to the school canteen and eat. That solves the problem most of the time.

In this month's issue of Pediatrics, German researchers found that alertness and overall cognitive functioning improves when students eat breakfast before going to school.

This is so basic and everyone knows that whether we head for school or for work in the mornings, we should eat breakfast. But our busy lives interfere. Whether being "busy" is defined as too much homework, too much time playing PSP, or too much time spent partying around, it all boils down to less time sleeping and no time to eat breakfast. It spells trouble later on. Because these students miss their breakfast, they have headaches later on. They miss their classes and of course, you know what happens to their grades when they miss classes. It now becomes a case of being present in school, but being "absent" in classes.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. No one should miss it.
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