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close this bookFood and Nutrition Bulletin Volume 17, Number 3, 1996 (UNU Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 1996, 104 pages)
close this folderNutrition and behaviour
close this folderEffects of breakfast on classroom behaviour in rural Jamaican schoolchildren
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentAbstract
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentMethods
View the documentResults
View the documentDiscussion
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentAppendix: Definition of behaviours
View the documentReferences

Results

The initial observation sample was 120 children. Seven children were lost from the study, and the resulting sample consisted of 57 undernourished and 56 adequately nourished children.

The children's anthropometry and social background are shown in table 4. As would be expected from the selection criteria, the undernourished children were significantly smaller in all anthropometric measures than the adequately nourished children. The mean age of the undernourished children was six months greater than that of the adequately nourished children (p < .01) and they had fewer schoolbooks (p < .05). The other two socio-economic ratings were not significantly different in undernourished and adequately nourished children.

TABLE 4. Anthropometric and socio-economic characteristics of children according to nutritional status

Characteristic Nutritional status
Undernournished
(29 M, 28 F)
Adequately nourished
(28 M, 28 F)
Mean SD Mean SD
Age (yr) 9.68 0 42 9.18 0.77**
Height-for-age (z-score) -1.30 0.54 0.58 0.91***
Weight-for-age (z-score) -1.56 0.28 0.30 0.56* * *
BMI (kg/m²) 14.43 0.92 16.45 1.50**
Book score 4.61 3.75 6.28 3 87*
Housing score (0-8) 2.67 1.86 3.00 1.89
Uniform score (0--4) 2.93 1.08 3.23 0.97

*p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001 by Student's retest.

 

The correlations among the behaviours summed over four days were examined for the teaching and set task situations separately. In the teaching situation, children who were more on task participated more (r= .72, p < .001), and spoke (r= -.48, p < .001) and moved (r= -.21, p < .05) less, than children who were less on task. Children who talked more also moved more (r = .25, p < .01) and participated less (r= -.20, p < .05). During the set task situation, the children who were less on task talked more (r = -.65, p < .001) and moved more (r = -.28, p < .01). Also, as they talked more, they moved around more (r = .40, p < .001).

Correlations were calculated between the behaviours summed over the four days and the anthropometric measures and age. In the teaching situation there were no significant associations between the behaviours and the anthropometric measures and age. In the set task situation there was a significant positive correlation between attention to task and the children's height-for-age (p < .05) and BMI (p < .05) (table 5). There were significant negative associations between all three anthropometric measures and gross motor behaviour in the set task situation (p < .05). Thus, children with poorer nutritional status tended to move more at their desks and in the classroom when left to work on their own. When the adequately nourished and undernourished groups were considered separately, the same pattern of correlations was observed in the adequately nourished children but not in the undernourished children. It is possible that the restricted range of nutritional status accounted for the latter finding.

TABLE 5. Pearson product-moment correlations (r) of behaviours over four days in the set task situations with anthropometry and age on enrollment

Behaviour Height-for-age Weight-for-age BMI
ON TASK .16* .14 .16*
TALKS -.07 -.05 -.12
GROSS MOTOR -.18* -.21* -.17*

*p < .05.

The effect of nutritional status was further examined in a repeated-measures analysis of variance, with the behaviours with and without breakfast as the within-subject factor and nutritional group as the between-subject factor. There were no main effects of nutritional group on any of the behaviours in the teaching situations. However, in the set task situation there was a nutritional group effect on gross motor behaviour (F = 4.31, p < .05), with the undernourished group moving more often.

The frequencies with which the behaviours occurred in the teaching and set task situations are shown in tables 6 and 7. Repeated-measures analyses of variance for each behaviour, using behaviour with and without breakfast as the within-subject factor and school, sex, and nutritional group as the between-subject factors, were calculated for the two types of situations separately. In the set task situation, girls talked more (F = 6.90, p < .05) and had more gross motor activity (F = 6.23, p < .05) than boys. There were no significant interactions between sex and treatment. There were also no significant main effects of nutritional group or treatment on any of the classroom behaviours and no significant interactions between nutritional group and treatment in these analyses.

TABLE 6. Unadjusted medians and ranges of frequency of behaviours with and without breakfast in the teaching situation by school (undernourished and adequately nourished groups combined)

Behaviour by school Breakfast No breakfasta
School SV (n = 24)  
ON TASK 151.3 (18.0)b 137.3 (28.0)b
TALKS 4 (0-31) 6 (1-32)
GROSS MOTOR 8 (0-36) 14 (1-60)
PARTICIPATE/RESPONSE 45 (15-109) 49 (6-87)
School Ml (n = 22)  
ON TASK 123.2 (31.5)b 128.5 (32.8)b
TALKS 13 (1-38) 7 (1-22)
GROSS MOTOR 7 (1-17) 8 (2-16)
PARTICIPATE/RESPONSE 37 (2 86) 34 (6-139)
School GH (n = 18)  
ON TASK 125.9 (39.6)b 137.4 (34.2)b
TALKS 15 (5 41) 12 (0-34)
GROSS MOTOR 13 (3-40) 12 (2-42)
PARTICIPATE/RESPONSE 47 (16-83) 43 (13-101)
School AR (n = 49)  
ON TASK 129.3 (27.0)b 131.1 (28.2)b
TALKS 12 (0-59) 12 (0-74)
GROSS MOTOR 9 (1-34) 8 (1-20)
PARTICIPATE/RESPONSE 37 (8-143) 31 (6-112)

a. Children given one-quarter of an orange.
b. Mean (SD) number of 10-second periods "on tasks".

There were however, significant school effects and school-treatment interactions in both situations, indicating that the treatment affected children differently in the different schools. In the teaching situation there was a significant interaction effect in "on task" (F = 4.43, p < .01), "talks" (F = 3.33, p < .05) and "gross motor" behaviours (F = 2.71, p < .05). In the set task situation, there was a significant school-treatment interaction in the "on task" behaviour (F = 5.71, p < .001).

TABLE 7. Unadjusted medians and ranges of frequency of behaviours with and without breakfast in the set task situation by school (undernourished and adequately nourished groups combined)

Behaviour by school Breakfast No breakfasta
School SV (n = 24)  
ON TASK 143.1 (20.2)b 134.6 (30.9)b
TALKS 16 (1-71) 15 (4-71)
GROSS MOTOR 11 (1-33) 10 (3-50)
School Ml (n = 22)  
ON TASK 121.1 (29.5)b 136.4 (23.4)b
TALKS 25 (1-66) 19 (7-54)
GROSS MOTOR 6 (0-15) 6 (0-17)
School GH (n = 18)  
ON TASK 119.4 (22.8)b 135.4 (16.5)b
TALKS 33 (10-86) 24 (4-65)
GROSS MOTOR 9 (2-25) 7 (1-28)
School AR (n = 49)  
ON TASK 118.0 (22.7)b 112.9 (27.6)b
TALKS 34 (3-99) 32 (3-103)
GROSS MOTOR 9 (0-25) 10 (1-47)

a. Children given one-quarter of an orange.
b. Mean (SD) number of 10-second periods "on task."

Post-analysis of variance comparisons showed that during the teaching situation, the children's attention to task in school SV increased significantly with breakfast (t = 2.89, p < .01; see



FIG. 1. Mean number of "on task" periods by school, with and without breakfast in the teaching situation), whereas the children's attention in the other schools did not change significantly. Similarly, in school SV, after the children had breakfast they moved less (t= 2.26, p < .05), whereas gross motor behaviour did not change in the other schools (see


FIG. 2. Mean gross motor movements by school, with and without breakfast in the teaching situation). In contrast, in school MI, after having breakfast the children talked more to their classmates in the teaching situation (t = 2.20, p < .05), and in the set task situation children were less on task in schools MI (t = -2.73, p < .01) and GH (t = -2.58, p < .02). There were no significant changes in behaviour with breakfast in school AR.