OBJECTIVE. The goal was to determine whether breakfast had effects on the cognitive performance and mood of high school students.

METHODS. A crossover trial was performed in boarding schools, involving 104 students between 13 and 20 years of age. The participants were randomly assigned to 2 equal-size groups on the morning of the first testing day. One half of the total sample received a standardized breakfast, whereas the other half received no breakfast. Seven days later, the treatment order was reversed. Measurements of cognitive function included standardized tests of attention and concentration, as well as tests of verbal and spatial memory. In addition, mood was rated with a self-administered questionnaire covering the dimensions of positive and negative affect, information uptake, arousal, and alertness. Statistical analysis consisted of repeated-measures analysis of variance.

RESULTS. Breakfast had no effect on sustained attention among high school students. Visuospatial memory was improved in male students. Self-reported alertness improved significantly in the entire study population. Male students reported feeling more positive after consuming breakfast, compared with the fasting condition.

CONCLUSIONS. This crossover trial demonstrated positive short-term effects of breakfast on cognitive functioning and self-reported alertness in high school students.

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