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Introduction: Research into the effectiveness of breakfast clubs has most commonly focused on social benefits to the child and school, such as improved attendance at school, punctuality and improved concentration levels in the classroom ( UEA, 2002). Limited research has been undertaken to investigate the nutritional value of the breakfast foods on offer, or the nutritional content of foods consumed by the child. The aim of this study was to find out what children eat and drink at school breakfast clubs in London. Method: The sample population consisted of 98 children (39 boys and 59 girls) aged 5–11 years attending four primary schools in London. Data were collected about the food on offer and the pricing of different food items, demographic data about the children attending the school club, qualitative data on food preferences and a weighed food intake on two different occasions for each child. Statistical tests (anovaand chi-squared tests) and nutrient analysis using Comp-Eat were carried out. Results: The average nutrient content of the breakfast meal consumed was 330 kcal, 12 g protein, 11 g fat and 49 g carbohydrate. Variation was seen between schools. Generally intakes of vitamin C, calcium and sodium were high and intakes of iron were average.anovabetween schools showed statistically significant results for a number of nutrients – protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugar, calcium and sodium. Boys were consuming statistically significantly more fat, saturated fat and calcium than girls. One in five children did not have a drink at breakfast. Menu options and pricing of food items varied between the schools and it was noted to influence children's food choice and consumption. Mean energy intakes equated to 18% of the estimated average requirement for boys and 20% for girls, with girls consuming more carbohydrate and sugar, and boys consumed more fat and protein. Discussion: The findings suggest that careful planning of menus should be undertaken with cereal-based options being offered daily and cooked options only occasionally, and that healthier eating messages can be incorporated effectively into school clubs when supported by the whole school approach to healthy eating. Conclusion: Food offered at school breakfast clubs can contribute substantial nutrients to a child's daily intake and therefore a varied menu, and guided food choices, should be developed incorporating healthier nutrient rich options. This work was supported by Brooke Bond working in partnership with the BDA Community Nutrition Group.
Community Dietitian, Hammersmith and Fulham Primary Care Trust, Richford Gate Primary Care Centre, 49 Richford Gate, London W6 7HY 2:
London Metropolitan University 3:
Hammersmith Hospitals Trust, UK