The omission of breakfast has been shown to be associated with obesity, decreased energy intake, Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and memory. A high protein, low glycemic index (GI) breakfast can positively affect memory and cognitive function. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recommended that every meal should be based upon the ChooseMyPlate model. However, it is unclear how this type of breakfast may affect cognitive function, specifically memory, within college students. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of the omission of a MyPlate-based breakfast meal on memory in college students through immediate (IR) and delayed (DR) free recall tasks. METHODS: Thirty-three undergraduate students (21 ± 0.09 years) participated in this study. Participants completed two testing days, each of which included a random assignment to a breakfast condition [omission (BO) and consumption (BC)]. The testing days were at least 48 hours apart. For the BC condition, participants were served a full breakfast based upon the ChooseMyPlate model (2 scrambled eggs, 1 cup of hash browns, 1 banana, 1 cup of bran flake cereal, 1 cup of 1% milk, and water as needed), and were told not to consume additional foods or liquids, except water, between 12:00 am and breakfast (scheduled between 7:00-8:30 am) and between breakfast and testing. The participants returned three to four hours later to complete the IR and DR free recall tests. The IR test was followed by a 10-minute video as a form of distraction. Once the video concluded, participants completed the DR test. The testing procedure was identical for the BO condition with the exception that participants did not consume breakfast or additional foods and liquids within the same time frame. Alpha (α) was set at p ≤ 0.05 to determine statistical significance for each dependent groups t-test comparison. RESULTS: No statistical difference (p = 0.26) was observed between BC (8.1 ± 2.6 words recalled) and BO (7.7 ± 2.4 words recalled) for IR. However, there was a significant difference (p = 0.02) between BC (6.7 ± 1.9 words recalled) and BO (5.8 ± 2.1 words recalled) for DR. CONCLUSION: The DR scores were improved under the BC condition, compared to BO, whereas IR scores were not. However, statistical power was low (0.07-0.24), which limited the applicability of findings to the target population. Participant adherence to the dietary instructions before and after testing may have been mixed, which could have introduced additional variance into the testing measures. Further research is needed to investigate the effect of other types of breakfast on cognition along with variations in free recall testing procedures.

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