A recent breakfast survey conducted in 2017 found that 1 in every 5 school-age children do not eat breakfast at least once per week and up to 30% of teenagers skip breakfast every day.
Reasons Why Children Do Not Eat Breakfast:
- Lack of time
- Too Tired
- Dislikes Breakfast Food
- Not Hungry in the Morning
- Trying to Lose Weight
1) Eating Breakfast Improves Cognition and Academic Performance
Research has shown that children who eat breakfast function better than those who are still fasting at the time of school starting. A nutritious breakfast improves a child’s ability to focus, enhances their ability to make good decisions, and improves their short-term memory.
2) Eating Breakfast Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight
Study after study has shown that children who skip breakfast to lose weight end up overeating later in the day because of hunger. The higher your hunger levels, the more quantity of food you will consume. Skipping breakfast has also been shown to increase the craving for sugary and fatty foods. Over time, constantly skipping breakfast can lead to weight gain, not weight loss.
3) Eating Breakfast Promotes Overall Better Health
Children who eat breakfast compared to those who do not, are more likely to meet their fiber, calcium, iron and other mineral requirements. Children who eat breakfast also have lower blood cholesterol levels compared to those who do not eat breakfast.
1) Plan out breakfast the night before. Open up the options. Breakfast does not always have to be the traditional breakfast foods. Breakfast can be leftover dinner from the previous night.
2) Discuss having a family breakfast. Many children have after-school activities so family dinners are not always an option. A family breakfast is a great way for the family to bond over a healthy meal. Families that eat together tend to eat healthier. This is also an opportunity for parents to set an example for their children to follow healthy eating behaviors.
3) When short on time, stock up on healthy, quick, no cooking required breakfast ideas. Look for breakfast bars or cereal that have real ingredients, less than 6 grams of sugar and 2 or more grams of fiber per serving. Some ideas include: KIND Healthy Grains Bar, SimplyProtein Kids Bar, Cheerios, and Puffins.
The evidence is overwhelming that children who eat a healthy breakfast perform better in school and are healthier overall. So, tomorrow morning, fuel up your family before you head out the door!
Manisha “Mona” Harpavat Dave, MD Pediatric Gastroenterologist