Brain Child

Breakfast Like a Little King
Numerous studies show that kids who eat breakfast perform better in school. But what they eat in the a.m. makes a huge difference, too. Tufts University researchers found that children ages 6 to 8 were more attentive and scored higher on tests when they ate oatmeal than when they had processed cereal for breakfast.

“Oatmeal and other whole grains break down into glucose more slowly, providing a time-release, rather than a burst, of energy,” explains the study’s co-author Holly A. Taylor, PhD, a professor of psychology at Tufts University in Medford, Ma.

Because their brains (and bodies) are growing so rapidly, little kids are more susceptible to the ill effects of a brief overnight fast than older kids and teens. Without healthy a.m. fare, 2- and 3-year-olds will be unable to focus and concentrate in daycare or preschool.

“We find the effects of eating breakfast are even more pronounced in younger children due to their increased metabolism,” says Taylor. Experts suggest that young children eat within one hour (at most) after waking up. (Wondering about the best a.m. foods for younger kids? See our Brainy Breakfast Guide.)