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Breakfast and school lunch as pathways for enhancing educational outcomes and promoting public health

Kristine Engebretsen Illøkken of the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences at the University of Agder has submitted her thesis entitled «Breakfast and school lunch as pathways for enhancing educational outcomes and promoting public health» and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Friday 16 September 2022. (Photo: Private)

Although breakfast and school lunches are traditionally viewed as family responsibilities in Norway, this thesis discusses how having breakfast and providing a free school lunch might be beneficial for educational outcomes and public health.

Kristine Engebretsen Illøkken

PhD Candidate

You may follow the disputation online. Link for registration as an online spectator at the bottom of this page. The disputation will be held in Nordic Languages.

 

Kristine Engebretsen Illøkken of the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences at the University of Agder has submitted her thesis entitled «Breakfast and school lunch as pathways for enhancing educational outcomes and promoting public health» and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Friday 16 September 2022. 

She has followed the PhD programme at the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences.

Read the summary of the thesis by Kristine Engebretsen Illøkken:

Breakfast and school lunch as pathways for enhancing educational outcomes and promoting public health

The aim of this thesis was to investigate the potential role of having breakfast and providing free school lunches in educational outcomes and in public health promotion in Norway.

Three studies

This was done by investigating the results of a free school lunch intervention called the School Meal Project (SMP) with the use of quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative method examined the effect of free school lunches on the school environment using linear regression (N = 164).

The qualitative method included individual interviews (N = 18) with students and teachers. These interviews, in which thematic analysis was applied, aimed to investigate students’ experiences with the SMP. Furthermore, by investigating the association between having breakfast at home and reading literacy.

This association was also examined using linear regression and was based on a sample of Nordic students (N = 17.161). These samples were drawn from a large international reading literacy study called the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study.

Findings

The results showed that there was no significant effect of the free school lunch on the school environment. This lack of significant findings might be explained by methodological limitations.

The interviews mainly identified positive experiences relating to the SMP. Students and teachers viewed the free school lunch as a social event in which students practiced social skills and made new friends, and they believed that it benefitted students’ function at school, their diets, and social equality.

The findings might be influenced by the small study sample and self-selection to participate.

Furthermore, having breakfast at home was associated, positively, with reading literacy score. These results are discussed in relation to the potential of breakfast and school lunch as pathways for enhancing educational outcomes and promoting public health.

Discussion: Family or school responability

Although breakfast and school lunches are traditionally viewed as family responsibilities in Norway, this thesis discusses how having breakfast and providing a free school lunch might be beneficial for educational outcomes and public health.

Therefore, these meals could also be considered a school domain, highlighting the need to place healthy eating on the school agenda.

However, as the studies in this thesis had several methodological limitations, the positive influences of breakfast and school lunches should be interpreted with caution.

Future research is needed to clarify the effects of having breakfast and providing school lunches on educational outcomes and public health in Norway.

Disputation facts:

The trial lecture and the public defence will take place in Gabriel Scotts Auditorium B1 001, Campus Kristiansand and online via the Zoom conferencing app - registration link below.

Professor Stephen Seiler, Department of Sport Science and Physical Education, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, will chair the disputation.

The trial lecture Friday 16 September at 10:15 hours

Public defence Friday 16 September at 12:30 hours

 

Given topic for trial lecture«Public health nutrition and school meals - Critical review of theories and public policies» (in Norwegian:) «Folkehelseernæring og skolemåltider – En kritisk gjennomgang av teorier og offentlig politikk»

Thesis Title«Breakfast and school lunch as pathways for enhancing educational outcomes and promoting public health»

Search for the thesis in AURA - Agder University Research Archive, a digital archive of scientific papers, theses and dissertations from the academic staff and students at the University of Agder.

The thesis is available here:

 

The CandidateKristine Engebretsen Illøkken (1990, Harstad – grown up in Trondheim and Lier) Bachelor degree in Public Health Nutrition Action, UiA (2012), masters degree in Public Health Science, UiA (2015). Title of Master Thesis «Effects of a free school meal on lunch habits in Norwegian elementary school children The School Meal Project in Aust-Agder». From 2016 til 2019 she was working in NAV (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration) and in Iveland muniocipality with public health. Present position: Adviser for social sustainability and public health in Lyngdal municipality.

Opponents:

First opponent: Professor Christel Larsson, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Second opponent: Professor Hege Wergedahl, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Associate Professor Dag Tomas Sagen Johannesen, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, is appointed as the administrator for the assessment committee.

Supervisors in the doctoral work were Professor Frøydis Nordgård Vik, University of Agder (main supervisor), Professor Nina Cecilie Øverby, University of Agder and Associate Professor Berit Johannessen, University of Agder (co-supervisors)

What to do as an online audience member:

The disputation is open to the public, but to follow the trial lecture and the public defence digitally, transmitted via the Zoom conferencing app, you have to register as an audience member on this link:

https://uiano.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5AufuihqTopGdc4bCBhNXLpRMlXiCrI-4Gs

A Zoom-link will be returned to you. (Here are introductions for how to use Zoom: support.zoom.us if you cannot join by clicking on the link.)

We ask online audience members to join the virtual trial lecture at 10:05 at the earliest and the public defense at 12:20 at the earliest. After these times, you can leave and rejoin the meeting at any time. Further, we ask online audience members to turn off their microphone and camera and keep them turned off throughout the event. You do this at the bottom left of the image when in Zoom. We recommend you use ‘Speaker view’. You select that at the top right corner of the video window when in Zoom.

Opponent ex auditorio:

The chair invites members of the public to pose questions ex auditorio in the introduction to the public defense. Deadline is during the break between the two opponents. The person asking questions should have read the thesis. For online audience the Contact Persons e-mail are available in the chat function during the Public Defense, and questions ex auditorio can be submitted to Eli Margareth Andås on e-mail eli.andas@uia.no.