Students Who Ate Breakfast in the Past Day, by Grade Level
Definition: Estimated percentage of public school students in grades 7, 9, 11, and non-traditional programs who ate breakfast in the previous day (e.g., in 2013-2015, an estimated 61.7% of California 9th graders had eaten breakfast in the past day).
Footnote: Years presented comprise two school years (e.g., 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years are shown as 2013-2015). County- and state-level data are weighted estimates; school district-level data are unweighted. Students in non-traditional programs are those enrolled in community day schools or continuation education. The notation S refers to (a) data for school districts that have been suppressed because there were fewer than 10 respondents in that group, and (b) data for counties that have been suppressed because the sample was too small to be representative. N/A means that data are not available.
Learn More About Nutrition
Measures of Nutrition on Kidsdata.org
Kidsdata.org offers the following nutrition-related indicators:
Proper nutrition in childhood and adolescence promotes healthy growth and development (1). A nutritious diet over the life course can help reduce the risk of developing conditions such as dental cavities, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer (1).
Eating breakfast can promote proper nutrition. Children who eat breakfast have higher daily intakes of key vitamins/minerals and tend to make healthier food choices throughout the day (2). Eating a nutritious breakfast also is associated with improved mood, cognitive functioning, and school attendance (1, 2).
Children in low-income households are at higher risk of poor nutrition, which can have long-term, negative health consequences (1, 3, 4). For example, undernourishment can adversely affect children's cognitive development, and consumption of unhealthful foods (e.g., fast food and sugar-sweetened beverages) is linked to weight gain and obesity (1, 3, 4).
For more information on children's nutrition, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
According to a 2015-2016 California survey, 40% of children and youth drank sugary beverages on a daily basis, with county-level figures ranging from 11% (Santa Cruz) to 62% (Merced and Napa) across regions with data. Sugary drink consumption also differed by age and race/ethnicity. For example, among youth ages 12-17, 58% reported drinking at least one sugar-sweetened beverage in the previous day, while parent reports for younger children were much lower, at 35% for ages 6-11, and 22% for ages 2-5. Among racial/ethnic groups with data, an estimated 66% of multiracial and 64% of Hispanic/Latino youth ages 12-17 consumed sugary beverages daily, compared to 55% for African American/black, 53% for white, and 43% for Asian youth.
According to the same survey, more than one-third (35%) of children ages 2-11 ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables (excluding juice and fried potatoes) daily, compared to about a quarter (26%) of youth ages 12-17. The survey also found that 43% of children and youth ages 2-17 ate fast food two or more times in the preceding week, similar to previous years. Among counties with data, estimates of children and youth consuming fast food at least twice weekly ranged from 7% (Marin) to 62% (San Benito) in 2015-2016.
According to 2013-2015 estimates, 67% of California 7th graders and 62% of 9th and 11th graders had eaten breakfast in the past day. Across grade levels statewide, boys were more likely than girls to report having breakfast. By comparison, only 43% of girls and 42% of boys in non-traditional programs had eaten breakfast in the past day. In general, estimates of eating breakfast were lowest for students with low levels of school connectedness and those whose parents did not finish high school (52% and 55%, respectively), and increased as levels of school connectedness and parent education improved. In 2013-2015, fewer than half of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students in California ate breakfast in the past day, compared with more than 60% of students in other groups.
During the same period, 28% of responses by elementary school staff in California indicated strong agreement that their school provided students with healthy food choices. Strong agreement was lowest among responses by high school staff (18%), followed by middle school and non-traditional school staff (22%).
Nutrition during childhood, from the prenatal stage on, influences lifelong health (1). The childhood years also are a critical time for establishing long-term dietary habits. Public policy, school practices, and community strategies can improve access to nutritious food and encourage healthy choices, increasing the likelihood of lifelong health (2, 3, 4). Children and youth need a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as adequate water (2). Health experts also recommend minimizing consumption of solid fats, sodium, and added sugars (e.g., sugary beverages and fast food), which are linked to negative health outcomes (2).
Schools are well-positioned to educate children about nutrition and promote healthy habits. Poor diets and undernutrition have been shown to substantially affect student achievement, making nutrition a priority for school performance (2, 3, 5). Children in poverty are particularly vulnerable to poor nutrition (3, 4). Federal nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the School Breakfast Program offer vital support for low-income children and families, though many of these programs continue to be underutilized in California (3, 5, 6).
Options to improve nutrition for children include:
Promoting policies and practices to ensure adequate nutrition for pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants, and toddlers, as nutrition during this phase plays a key role in children’s neurodevelopment and long-term health; for example, preserving and strengthening public nutrition programs (e.g., WIC), and ensuring that health care providers are trained on nutrition issues and are able to refer families to appropriate support services (1, 3)
Supporting, improving, and ensuring effective implementation of programs and policies to promote nutrition in child care and early education settings, such as the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program, which provides nutritious meals and snacks to children in day care (7, 8)
Maximizing opportunities to increase participation in public nutrition programs, including SNAP (CalFresh in California), school breakfast, school lunch, afterschool nutrition, and summer food service; for example, encouraging schools to offer breakfast after the start of the school day and to provide free meals for all students, which can be fully reimbursed for high-poverty schools through service options such as the Community Eligibility Provision (3, 5, 6)
Increasing awareness among all school stakeholders—leaders, teachers, students, families, community members, and others—about the links between nutrition, weight, cognitive function, academic performance, and school finances; this includes incorporating nutrition education into health curricula for students (5, 9)
Promoting cross-sector, comprehensive strategies to reduce consumption of sugary beverages and increase the availability of healthy, affordable food options for children and families, particularly in low-income areas and communities of color; for example, attracting retailers of nutritious food (e.g., grocery stores) to locate in under-served areas, or advocating for restaurants to remove sugary drinks from children’s menus and to meet the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell nutrition guidelines (4, 8, 10)
Continuing efforts to increase responsible marketing of food and beverages to young people (11)
10. Ribakove, S., et al. (2017). Soda on the menu: Improvements seen but more change needed for beverages on restaurant children's menus. Center for Science in the Public Interest. Retrieved from: https://cspinet.org/kidsbeveragestudy