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Peter Richard Simpson

Postgraduate Researcher in Nutritional Epidemiology, University of Leeds

BSc(Econ) - University College, London - 1974
MSc in Economics - Queen Mary College, London - 1975
Research Officer in Community Medicine - University College Hospital Medical School, London 1975-1979
Lecturer in Economics - Queen's University Belfast 1979-1990
Head of Economics and Chaplain - Latymer Upper School, Hammersmith, London 1990-2008
Life Fellow Royal Society of Medicine - 2013
Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health - London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine - 2014
Registered for PhD - University of Leeds - 2018 to date - breakfast provision in secondary schools in Northern Ireland

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, 130 out of a total of 193 secondary schools in Northern Ireland served breakfast to their pupils - but take-up rates were low. Only around 7,000 students out of 140,000 (approximately 5%) availed themselves of this service. This would not be cause for concern if most pupils were eating breakfast at home, but I suspected this was not the case. To find out more, I invited all Year 8, 10, and 12 pupils at a representative sample of 18 secondary schools to complete an online questionnaire during Summer Term 2021. I was encouraged to receive a total of 2,488 responses. However, the findings were very worrying. I found that one in three pupils had nothing to eat or drink (other than water) before leaving home for school. Even when my analysis allowed any food or drink consumed within 4 hours of rising to count as breakfast, only 46% of pupils were deemed to be eating enough. Breakfast skipping was found to increase with age and to be more prevalent in girls than boys. Secondary school pupils must eat a nutritious breakfast each school day to get the maximum benefit from attending school and aid development into healthy adults. My research has discovered that late bedtimes and lack of sleep at night help explain the high rates of breakfast skipping. Perhaps more should be done to encourage eating breakfast at school?

Experience

  • –present
    Postgraduate Researcher in Nutritional Epidemiology , University of Leeds

Education

  • 2014 
    London School of Hygiene & tropical Medicine, Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health