Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Is breakfast consumption related to mental distress and academic performance in adolescents?

Lars Liena1 c1

a1 Institute of General Practice and Community Medicine and Institute of Psychiatry, Frederik Holst Hus University of Oslo, Boks 1072 Blindern, No-0316 Oslo, Norway


Objective To examine the relationship between mental distress, academic performance and regular breakfast consumption across gender and immigration status.

Design Cross-sectional population-based study. Two four-page questionnaires were filled in during two school sessions.

Setting All junior high schools in Oslo, Norway using the classroom as the setting for the study.

Subjects All 10th grade students 15–16 years olds in 2000 and 2001. Of 8316 eligible students, 7343 (88.3%) participated in the study.

Results All immigrant groups, except the Western countries group, are skipping breakfast more often than Norwegian students, and girls more often than boys (27 versus 19%). After adjustment for possible confounding factors, the odds ratio (OR) for being mentally distressed when eating breakfast seldom/never compared with every day was 3.0 (2.0–4.5) for boys, 1.6 (1.2–2.1) for girls and 1.6 (1.5–2.6) for the immigrant group. The comparable OR for having low school grades was similar for boys and girls, 2.0 (1.3–3.0), and 1.6 (1.5–2.6) for the immigrant groups.

Conclusions Skipping breakfast is a common feature among 10th grade students. The implications of skipping breakfast on mental distress and academic performance are stronger for boys than girls and stronger for Norwegians compared with immigrants.

(Received March 14 2006)

(Accepted July 25 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email