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Original Author (Copyright Owner): DIANA G. NDE

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  • Name: RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EATING BREAKFAST AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE: A CASE STUDY FROM WURO HAUSA PRIMARY SCHOOL YOLA, ADAMAWA STATE, NIGERIA.
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  • Length: [48] Pages

 

ABSTRACT

Adequate nutrition is essential for a healthy growth. Research has shown how important it is for a child to have the necessary nutrients for growth and development. Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day and it is very important for a child as it contains nutrients essential for good mental growth, and also learning outcomes. I used qualitative research methods to investigate the relationship between eating breakfast and academic performance using Wuro Hausa Primary School as my case study.
I had a total sample size (n) of 90 students. I used a random number generator application to generate my subjects. My results showed a significant relationship between frequency of breakfast consumption and academic performance. The results illustrated that as the frequency of breakfast consumption increases, the better a child performs academically. My data was collected over a period of 14 days. The results also showed a relationship between the age of the children and the frequency of breakfast consumption.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Cover Page ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. i
Certification Page …………………………………………………………………………………………. ii
Readers Approval Page …………………………………………………………………………………. iii
Dedicatory Page …………………………………………………………………………………………… iv
Acknowledgments. ……………………………………………………………………………………….. v
Abstract ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. vi
List of Tables……………………………………………………………………………………………….. viii
List of Figures ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ix
Chapter 1: Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………. 1
Aims & Objectives ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 10
Chapter 2: Materials & Methods …………………………………………………………………….. 11
Chapter 3: Results ………………………………………………………………………………………… 15
Chapter 4: Discussion …………………………………………………………………………………… 24
Chapter 5: Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………………… 29
Appendix I …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 30
Appendix II …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 31
Appendix III…………………………………………………………………………………………………33
References …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 35

 

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

When it comes to living a healthy and long life and most importantly having a functional brain activity, nutrition is very essential. Nutrition, in common terms, can be referred to ways through which one obtains the food which is required for proper health and growth. For a child, it is very important that he/she eats the right food at the right time in order to obtain the necessary nutrients required for growth. Poor feeding or nutrition contributes greatly to diseases people face especially in children (Badri, 2014).
Nutrition is an important aspect in a child’s life. A child who is malnourished or does not feed well tends to be backwards when it comes interaction and learning. When a child eats properly, the nutrients obtained from that meal fosters a good and well balanced physical, social and mental state of mind and wellbeing hence leading to the child’s increase in self-esteem (Badri, 2014). Proper nutrition aids a child’s brain activities. A child who is malnourished at the age of 3 years will most likely exhibit a diminished mental state when compared with peers at age 11 (Florence, Asbridge, & Veugelers, 2008). Poor nutrition leads to an increase in levels of absenteeism in school. This is so because the body becomes really weak and its capacity to resist and combat diseases has been reduced. So due to this, children do not go to school or if they do, they have little to no interest in learning and participating in school tasks (Pertz & Putnam, 1982). According to the United Nation World Food Program (WFP), almost 60 million kids in developing nations go to school hungry every passing day and about 40% of
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those kids are Africans (WFP, 2010). Poor nutrition in children leads situations like stunted growth, anemia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Vitamin A in Children
Vitamin A is one the key nutrients when it comes to a child’s growth and development. This nutrient is commonly found in foods like eggs, vegetables, milk, meat and also fruits. Vitamin A is important for vision and also brain development. It is very necessary for a child to eat foods containing vitamin A in order to avoid complications such as Vitamin A deficiency and also for that child to grow well both mentally and physically.
Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) as the called is caused by lack of vitamin A. According to UNICEF, preventable childhood blindness is mainly caused by VAD, as it is the leading factor. VAD also increases the death risks of children from diarrhea (UNICEF, 2015).
ADHD in Children
Iron is a nutrient that plays vital roles in numerous molecules found the brain and also the nervous system (N.S). A deficiency in this nutrient in the brain has proven to have a vast effect on the intellect and behavioral patterns of a child (Sizer & Whitney, 2013). Children who experience iron deficiency tend to demonstrate behavioral and also physical symptoms which include weakness, feeling sick, acting withdrawn from peers, sad and sometimes even depressed (Sizer & Whitney, 2013). Iron deficiency leads to ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). This was formally called ADD which stands for Attention Deficit Disorder. This disorder comes with such symptoms as lack of attentiveness and hyperactivity. These symptoms may differ from person to person
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and both children and adults can develop the disorder. Iron deficiency is one of the most common form of malnutrition in the world. It is very common in Asia and also Africa. It arises from taking in foods that are relatively low in iron at early stages in life. Breastmilk is the main source of iron for infants. When constantly giving cow milk to a child, it increases his/her tendencies of being iron deficient (Moy & Early, 1999). Asides ADHD, other outcomes of iron deficiency may include stunted growth, slow and delayed cognitive growth and poor performance in school (Moy & Early, 1999). As shown in the figure below, iron deficiency is much more common in children within the age range of 1-2 years. It is less common as children start to grow.
Figure 1. How common Iron Deficiency is in Children. (source: Looker et al, 1997).
Food is very important for learning as it provides energy. Nutrition and learning can be related directly and indirectly. An indirect relationship is when the food affects the learning capacity of the brain and body while the direct relationship is when the diet affect the development of the nervous system. It is important that these two relationships
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are developed positively in a child. Caloric deficit in a child’s early stages in life results in a reduction in certain activities like interactions with peers (Pertz & Putnam, 1982).
It is important that a child eats at least three times in a day, breakfast most importantly. Certain effects on cognitive development, academic performance, attendance, social and also psychological function in children have been associated with skipping/missing breakfast (Rampersaud, 2005) Eating breakfast has been associated with outcomes such as better school performance and attendance, improved social and also mental activities, fitness and then a better and healthier weight (Grantham-McGregor, 2005).
Breakfast has a significantly high contribution to the nutrient and also energy intake daily. In India, children within the age range of 10-15 years were able to meet about one quarter (1/4) of one third (1/3) of the daily energy and protein consumed from that breakfast meal (Uma Chitra, 2007). This is to say that, if a child misses breakfast, that child misses out on a significant amount of energy and nutrients for that day thus causing weakness and inability to learn properly in school. Breakfast can also add to a child’s body mass index (BMI). Two reports have shown that children (and also adolescents) who consume breakfast stand a lower chance of being overweight or stunted (Szajewska and Ruszczynski, 2010; de la Hunty et al., 2013).
Children who go to school hungry tend to have a lower interest level when it comes to learning compared to children who eat a healthy breakfast before coming to school. Their mental, social, cognitive and physical functions reduce and this can, in most cases, lead to an increase in school absenteeism (Read, 1973). It is only common sense to
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realize that it is quite unreasonable for anyone let alone a child be able to study or even learn when no fuel whatsoever has been provided. Even a child who eats before going to school may experience some sort of hunger by late morning. Children who are very much underfed will definitely suffer more.
Children in particular, are much more vulnerable when it comes to the effects of breakfast on the brain. Adults have a much lower glucose metabolism in brain compared to children. From the age of 10 years, the high brain glucose metabolism starts to decline (Chugani, 1998). On average, the cerebral blood flow and use of oxygen in children aged 3-11 is 1.8 and 1.3 times higher than that of adults respectively (Kennedy and Sokoloff, 1957; Chiron et al., 1992). There is a higher rate of depletion of glycogen in children during overnight sleep due the relatively higher demands of sleep compared to adults (Thorleifsdottir et al., 2002). Now, in order to maintain this high rate of metabolism, a constant supply of energy gotten from glucose is needed and that is why it may be important for a child to eat breakfast in order to have enough energy for the morning.
Behavior is a key determinant to cognitive and learning abilities. This is so because a child’s behavior determines whether or not he or she is ready to listen and carry out the tasks given in class. When a child eats breakfast before coming to school, the behavior towards carrying out an in-class task increases. In-class behavior is very important for school performance because it is like a prerequisite for a child to stay focused and right on track in class (Adolphus, Lawton, & Dye, 2013).
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Breakfast meals should contain a reasonable amount protein (e.g eggs) and iron (e.g milk). A child who is continuously being fed rice in the morning will not get the nutrients another child will get when having milk and eggs. The Food Consumption and Nutrition Survey in Nigeria (FCSN 2001-2003) showed that nutritional status in the county is quite bad. The data revealed that about 42% of children in Nigeria were stunted, about 25% were shown to be underweight and about 9% were wasting away. About 29.5% under age 5 suffered from vitamin A deficiency while well over 27% were at various stages of iron and also iodine deficiency (Maziya-dixon et al, 2004). Iron deficiency is a serious problem most especially in children. A child who always has rice for breakfast will always be missing out on iron nutrients compared to a child who eats eggs and bacon (or beef).
The performance of a child on an exam may also be affected by how the child eats (Kim et al., 2003). Food provides energy and a child who doesn’t eat before writing an exam should not be expected to perform well. A child of 5 years who does not eat breakfast before going to school and has an exam that day is likely to not pass because the brain will be weak and the body as well. Due to this, that child may lose all interest in the exam.
There have been so many studies conducted in order to prove the relationship between nutrition and academic performance but these studies barely investigate the serious effects of breakfast on behavior. Academic performance is not independent. It is affected by the behavior of a child. So therefore, if a child goes to school hungry, the behavior of that child towards education will not be positive thus, leading to the child’s low
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academic performance. However, studying this maybe be quiet difficult and complications regarding the measures to be used in for assessing the behavior of a child may arise.
Yes, it is widely known that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but that is just always where it stops. There are assumptions however, breakfast consumption can be related to a child’s academic performance. Studies have been made but it is still unclear how the two are related. Some studies have shown that there is, some have not and others say there are other factors that affect a child’s academic performance much more. I was privileged to work with some primary school students for a community service project in a local school and that was what I noticed. The main things we concentrated as the problem for low academic performance of the kids were lack of reading and writing materials, inadequate learning infrastructures and also lack of qualified teachers (Nde, unpublished data). We never considered hunger as part of the problem and that is why this study was conducted.
There have been very few studies that show a relationship between eating breakfast and academic performance in Africa. Most of the literatures reviewed were studies carried outside Africa thus the purpose of this research. This research focuses on how breakfast can or may be related to a child’s academic performance in Africa. As clearly stated above, breakfast is an important meal and it is expected that a child should have this every morning to enable good growth and development. It is important for people to be aware that breakfast plays an important role in the academic life of a child.
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In this study, I investigated the relationship between eating breakfast and academic performance of children at a primary school in the northeastern Nigeria. I expected that children who eat breakfast before going to school would perform better academically than those who do not eat breakfast. I also investigated how age comes into play when it comes to the relationship between eating breakfast and academic performance. The data was obtained qualitatively in the form of structured and semi-structured interviews. The sample size was a total of 120 children. The data collected was analyzed using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences).

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