In middle schools, the number of girls who are hungry in the morning is increasing – this is how it shows in the daily life of the school | Homeland

According to the School Health Survey, 8th and 9th graders skip breakfast – especially girls.

School Health Nurse at Kwinity Middle School, Kokkola Tina Martonen He says students can be seen skipping breakfast in reception.

– There is fatigue or headache, which is why people come to visit, Martunen says.

Deana Martonen, school health nurse at Kwinity Middle School, sees students with symptoms from missing breakfast. Photo: Kalle Niskala / Yle

Kwinity studies in middle school Realina Beltari He says he eats breakfast, but sometimes misses it in a hurry.

– Headache may occur. Then I can't concentrate well in class, and I start to get irritated very quickly with everything, says Beldari.

Deputy member of Suomen Rehtorit ry board and chairman of Pohjalaiset Rehtorit ry Henry Lepaho Says hunger manifests as physical restlessness, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating in students.

– Lepaho says that according to studies, the focus on learning and teaching is weaker than usual due to malnutrition.

Further: Large numbers of middle and first graders are skipping school lunches — see what they're really eating

Breakfast is not considered important

Research Manager, Institute of Health and Welfare Susanna Rowlian According to some young people, breakfast is not considered important, so they do not make time for it.

– There are more important things to do in the morning, or we sleep so long that we don't wake up to eat breakfast, Rouleau says.

According to the 2023 School Health Survey, 42 percent of 8th and 9th graders did not eat breakfast each weekday morning. In women, the share was clearly higher than in men.

A line graph of how breakfast tastes to middle school students.

About 15 percent of the same age group skip breakfast on a weekday morning.

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According to Rouleau, it appears that the same youth who skip breakfast also skip school lunch.

– Of course, it is not 100% like this, but they are related to each other.

The school health questionnaire doesn't answer what these youngsters are eating, but according to Rouleau, THL has looked into the matter. Stomach fills from shops and kiosks near schools.

– Not eating whole foods. And then you're always hungry, any time you don't eat properly, he explains.

According to Rouleau, the survey clearly shows that those who struggle with eating challenges also have problems with doing well in school, feeling comfortable in school, and being absent.

The use of energy drinks has increased

According to Rouleau, studies have found that energy drink use among 8th and 9th grade girls has clearly increased in recent years.

Breakfast is replaced by an energy drink, for example during the school trip, says the research manager.

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According to the principal of Toivolanranta Unified School in Seinäjoki, Henry Leppaho, students used to come to school in the morning by bus and immediately go to a local store to get an energy drink.

Alcoholic beverages are prohibited from being brought to school and, if found, will be confiscated from students throughout the school day.

– It's like a cat-and-mouse game, Lepaho says.

Energy drinks in refrigerators.

Many young people today turn their breakfast into an energy drink. Photo: Kalle Niskala / Yle

According to Rouleau, the reason for skipping meals is ostensibly stressful: the diet is skipped to keep the body slim.

According to him, appearance pressure is felt by boys but more pronounced by girls.

– Rouleau says that girls take peer evaluation on social media more easily than boys.

Middle school age is also a time of rebellion. That's why it's so easy to spread the idea that eating school meals is stupid, or eating real food for breakfast instead of an energy drink.

Big regional differences without a clear red thread

The popularity of breakfast and school lunch shows some regional features in school health surveys, but differences can be large within the same welfare area or even in neighboring municipalities.

For example, young people in Kainuu and Northern Ostrobothnia eat both breakfast and school lunch well.

On the other hand, the municipality of Vala, located on the border of these regions, has young people who do not eat school lunch on a weekday.

According to Rouleau, the disparity in regional and municipal statistics is explained by the fact that today's youth are networked.

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For example, not eating or using energy drinks is spreading rapidly across Finland. For example, Rouleau takes a Prime drink.

– When it came to Finland, it cost almost 20 euros per bottle. Still, it spread like wildfire, he recalls.

According to Rouleau, there hasn't been a comprehensive study of what is done differently in areas without a youth boom.

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