Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify and compare perceived benefits and barriers related to breakfast consumption and concerns about weight among children in schools with or without a Universal School Breakfast Program (USBP). Design: Teacher-administered survey at the end of a 3-year pilot program. Subjects/Settings: Fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade students in six USBP pilot schools (n = 827) and four control schools (n = 615). Control and pilot sites were matched by geographic location and socioeconomic status of students. Response rates were > 70%. Variables Measured: Perceptions of benefits and barriers related to breakfast consumption and weight-related concerns. Statistical Analyses Performed: Chi-square tests were used to assess statistical differences in categorical responses to survey items. Results: The majority of students perceived that eating breakfast provides benefits of increased energy and ability to pay attention in school. Commonly held perceptions of barriers to eating breakfast were lack of time and not being hungry in the morning. Compared with children in non-USBP schools, those in the USBP schools were less likely to wish they were thinner, to go on a diet, or skip breakfast because it might make them fat and more likely to believe that eating breakfast will give them energy and help them pay attention. Implications: Based on the results of this study, nutrition educators may find it helpful to develop educational materials and programs based on the reciprocal determinism construct of Social Learning Theory to promote breakfast consumption. The focus should be on practical strategies to address barriers and encourage behavioral changes for both children and their parents.
- Breakfast consumption
- School-aged children
- Social Learning Theory
- Universal School Breakfast Program (USBP)