Associations between having breakfast and reading literacy achievement among Nordic primary school students

Kristine Engebrett Illøkken, Dorte Ruge, Frøydis Nordgaard, Vik, Nina Cecilie Øverby, Marissa Le Blanc

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Having breakfast is associated with improved diet quality, cognitive- and academic performance and can therefore positively impact learning and health, although the impact on reading literacy is unknown in the Nordic countries. The aim of this study was to assess the association between having breakfast often versus rarely and reading literacy achievement based on Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) from 2016. The sample consisted of Danish (N = 3508), Finnish (N = 4896), Norwegian (N = 4232) and Swedish (N = 4525) students, 10–11 years old. Students self-reported their frequency of having breakfast. Linear regression analysis (adjusted for socio-economic status and gender) showed that those who often vs. rarely had breakfast achieved a higher reading literacy score. The results suggest that having breakfast may be important for reading literacy achievement even after adjusting for socioeconomic status. This potential relationship between breakfast intake and students’ academic achievement should be given priority for further research and practice as breakfast is a modifiable factor that can be both improved and be intervened on.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducation Inquiry
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)247-259
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • children and youth
  • schools, courses and institutions
  • health, nutrition and quality of life


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