You've heart it since you were a kid - "breakfast is the most important meal of the day!" While many understand the value of breakfast, few actually find the time to fit it in their (or their kid's) busy schedules. It may be the last thing on one's mind what with the "A.M. Time Crunch", the hustle after a series of snooze button hits, and rather "iffy" appetites. This all-important meal is so essential, though, that hopefully some extra information and research will give families the extra push they need to make breakfast a constant in their routine. After all, the benefits FAR outweight the excuses or arguments for skipping breakfast.
New Insights into the Importance of Breakfast
Finally! A study that compares breakfast consumers with breakfast skippers among children and adolescents in their habit-forming years of growth. A study in the British Journal of Medicine tracked the diets of more than 1700 children between the ages of 4 and 18 over the course of 4 years and compared their diets to national dietary guidelines. 1
Researchers found that breakfast skippers had lower levels of folate, calcium, iron, and iodine. It seems as though nutrient intake during the rest of the day just isn't compensating for skipping breakfast. 1
Interestingly, while only about 7% of 4-10 year olds were skipping breakfast daily, more than 25% of older kids were skipping breakfast. This may be due to parents having less say in what older adolescents are eating. This also shows the value of modeling for and instilling in children early on the value of a high-quality breakfast. 1
Benefits Kids Can't Afford to Miss Out On
When children and adolescents eat breakfast, they meet vital nutrient needs, tend to have better grades and attendance, have less sick days, are able to stay concentrated at school and less distracted by hunger and cravings throughout the day, and can even have less behavioral problems.
Schools will have to do their part in making a nutritious breakfast available for those who didn't manage to at home. In the meantime, what can you do at home to make it easier and more likely for your child to eat breakfast?
- Wake up earlier. Getting up just 5-10 minutes earlier can make breakfast more likely.
- Prepare as much as you can the night before then breakfast will be a breeze the next morning. Overnight oats, hard-boiled eggs, even smoothies stay well overnight. As a plus, smoothies and protein shakes are a great grab n' go option. Breakfast sandwiches also travel well.
- Have breakfast staples handy, like whole grain cereal, toast, peanut butter, and milk.
Your child or teen may not become a breakfast eater overnight. It may take time but the effort is worth it. Now is the time to get them started on a lifestyle habit that's worth keeping a lifetime!
1. JD Coulthard et al. Br J Nutr 1-11. 2017 Aug 17.