The Effects of Food Deprivation on Concentration and Perseverance of Students

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THE EFFECTS OF FOOD DEPRIVATION ON

CONCENTRATION AND PERSEVERANCE OF STUDENTS
Karlo F. Vertucio Pateros Catholic School

EFFECTS OF FOOD DEPRIVATION 2 ABSTRACT

This paper examined the effects of short-term food deprivation on two cognitive abilities

—concentration and perseverance. For this purpose, we used surveys, researches and

tests to come up with a firm result of the case. Students (N-30) were tested on both a

concentration task and a perseverance task after one of three levels of food deprivation: none,

12 hours, or 24 hours.

We predicted that food deprivation would impair both concentration scores and perseverance

time. Food deprivation had no significant effect on concentration scores, which is consistent

with recent research on the effects of food deprivation (Green et al., 1995; Green et al., 1997).

However, participants in the 12-hour deprivation group spent significantly less time
on the perseverance task than those in both the control and 24-hour deprivation groups,

suggesting that short-term deprivation may affect some aspects of cognition and not others.

This study is made to explore certain theories about the matter, which will be of great help to all concerned.

EFFECTS OF FOOD DEPRIVATION 3 THE EFFECTS OF FOOD DEPRIVATION ON CONCENTRATION AND PERSEVERANCE OF STUDENTS Many things interrupt people’s ability to focus on a task: distractions, headaches, noisy environments, and even psychological disorders. To some extent, people can control the environmental factors that make it difficult to focus. However, what about internal factors, such as an empty stomach? Can people increase their ability to focus simply by eating regularly? One theory that prompted research on how food intake affects the average person was the glucostatic theory. Several researchers in the past suggested that the brain regulates food intake in order to maintain a blood-glucose set point. The idea was that people become hungry when their blood-glucose levels drop significantly below their setpoint and that they become satisfied after eating, when their blood-glucose levels return to that set point. This theory seemed logical because glucose is the brain’s primary fuel (Pinel, 2000). The earliest investigation of the general effects of food deprivation found that long-term food deprivation (36 hours and longer) was associated with sluggishness, depression, irritability, reduced heart rate, and inability to concentrate (Keys, Brozek, Henschel, Mickelsen, & Taylor, 1950). One study found that skipping breakfast impairs certain aspects of cognition, such as problem-solving abilities (Pollitt, Lewis, Garza, & Shulman, 1983). However, other research by M. W. Green, N. A. Elliman, and P. J. Rogers (1995, 1997) has found that food deprivation ranging from missing a single meal to 24 hours without eating does not significantly impair cognition. Another study found that fasting for several days produced muscular weakness, irritability, and apathy or depression (Kollar, Slater, Palmer, Docter, & Mandell, 1964). Since that time, research has focused mainly on how nutrition affects cognition. According to some researchers, most of the results so far indicate that cognitive function is not affected significantly by short-term fasting (Green et al., 1995, p. 246)....
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