Edward Rooney

Edward Rooney is the news editor at the Herald on Sunday.

Exercise beats breakfast

The Danish study suggested that exercise was more beneficial to children than having breakfast or lunch. Photo / Thinkstock
The Danish study suggested that exercise was more beneficial to children than having breakfast or lunch. Photo / Thinkstock

The Government might have better spent it's $9.5 million school breakfast money on walking school buses, findings from a Danish study into children and exercise suggest.

The Danish study, cited at a symposium in Washington this week, had set out to prove the benefits for children having breakfast and lunch.

"The results showed that having breakfast and lunch has an impact, but not very much compared to having exercised," co-author Niels Egelund said. The Government is spending $9.5million on giving low-decile schools a Sanitarium breakfast with Fonterra milk.

The outcome was pounced on by Green MP Julie Anne Genter, who was a keynote speaker at the Bicycle Urbanism Symposium hosted by the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington this week.

"They tried to explore the link between nutrition and concentration and instead found that kids being driven to school was a bigger influence on how well they could learn," she said.

The Copenhagen-based research surveyed 19,527 pupils aged between five and 19. Participants were asked about exercise and tested for concentration. "The exercises one uses to transport oneself to school is reflected in the level of concentration one has circa four hours later," Egelund told AFP.

Paul McArdle, of the The Bike On New Zealand Charitable Trust, said children who rode bikes regularly, such as to school, performed better academically because they generally had higher levels of health and fitness, confidence and self-esteem.

- Herald on Sunday

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