The Guardian have a piece about pupil hunger as part of their Breadline Britain series.
They found that “nearly half of the teachers who answered the survey (49 per cent) said they had taken in food for their pupils.”
This sent me back to the Health Behaviour in School Aged Children report which has some data about school aged children eating breakfast. They reminded us that missing breakfast is “associated with risk behaviours such as smoking, alcohol consumption and sedentary behaviours”.
As you can see from the map on the right (taken from the HBSC survey) we particularly need to be concerned about what happens to girls who by the time they are 15 are saying that less than half of them eat breakfast every day. That compares with the 50-70% of boys who say they eat breakfast every school day.
That said if the quotes in the Guardian are anything to go by what counts as breakfast may be an important question too:
“We see kids arriving in school washing down sweets/crisps with Yazoo shakes or fizzy drinks (even energy drinks) which is SOMETHING but still not good.”
The HBSC report makes the following recommendations to policy makers:
- Young people’s eating profiles change between ages 11 and 15, which suggests this is a key stage for interventions and that efforts need to be sustained.
- Gender differences highlight that boys and girls have different needs and tend to respond to interventions differently; for instance, boys are more likely to have daily breakfast when encouraged by parents while girls tend to do so if their peers eat healthily.
- Young people from low-affluence families typically have fewer opportunities to develop and maintain healthy eating habits.
- Notably, the family-affluence pattern is reversed in the Baltic states and eastern European countries. Strategies need to consider why unhealthy foods may be a symbol of wealth in these countries.