A third of Hawke's Bay secondary school students aren't eating breakfast, and some schools say screens and sleep-ins are to blame.
An EIT research project Nourishing Hawke's Bay: He wairua tō te kai (NHB) surveyed 43 schools and 2300 students in years five and nine about their wellbeing, physical activity, sleep, screen use, food behaviours, and measuring body size.
The aim of the study was to provide detailed regional data on the broad health of students to better understand the impact of initiatives to improve food security and health.
Deputy Principal at Flaxmere College Cherie Heeney said late bedtimes and screens are leading to students skipping breakfast.
"After a while it has become a habit for them, it could be gaming or whatever and getting to bed late, rushing to get to school and even pushing to get to school on time," Heeney said.
The study had found that one in five secondary students spent greater than five hours a day on screens outside of school hours, one in four went to bed after 11pm and three quarters had a screen in their bedroom.
Heeney said children who miss breakfast are behind the eight ball at school.
"They're going to deal with their emotions, like grumpiness or things like that and for some of them, they become highly reliant on energy drinks, which are a big no-no here."
Flaxmere College head student Chozen Hart said she sometimes misses her breakfast in the morning.
"I'll just forget about it, or I am in rush."
She said it is harder at school when she forgets her breakfast.
"You just don't have the energy to learn. In the mornings when I don't eat, I can be bothered to do my work, but I don't have the energy to do it. If I do eat breakfast in the morning then I have motivation to do my work."
She said that screens definitely contribute to less time in the mornings, but it is more of an issue for younger students.
"I think it's a problem for anyone, but I know how to control myself. But I think younger kids don't really know or understand. They'll stay up really late, but they won't get up until really late in the morning and then they'll probably just forget to have breakfast."
Central Hawke's Bay College principal Lance Christiansen said boys seemed more likely to want to eat in the morning than girls.
He said students who have full stomachs tend to be more actively engaged in their learning.
The study's Project Manager Pippa McKelvie-Sebileau said NHB is working with the Government's Ka Ora, Ka Ako free healthy school lunches programme to help provide the best food systems possible for each school, assisting with networks of cooks and suppliers, provision of menu and set-up of school kitchens.
She said 40% of Hawke's Bay children get their lunch from school, but breakfast isn't covered as often.
Christiansen said the Ka ora Ka Ako programme has helped to provide lunches for every student who wanted one.
"It had improved attendance at school and the students are generally much happier and more engaged in their classes. It has had a very positive impact on learning," he said.
On top of its lunch and morning tea programmes, Flaxmere College provides breakfasts, but Heeney said not many students had been drawn to it.
"Not many gravitate towards it, but we are trying to say to the students "it's ok, you're not labelled as 'poor' if you come have breakfast," she said.
McKelvie-Sebileau said the Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme is a step in the right direction, but there is still ways to help students across all schools.
"We really want to highlight the direct impact of good food on mood and wellbeing," she said.