Why kids should not skip breakfast - Funmbi Oo - Nutrition, Diet, Health Care, Weight Loss and more

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By now, you must have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. There are lots of comprehensive researches to show that it is, especially for children. Taking breakfast has been shown to improve children’s behavioral actions at school, and poor eating patterns can impair adolescent growth and development.
Simply put, a good quality breakfast helps provide young people with the energy they need for the day, and the nutrients they need to grow and develop.
Short-term effects
In the short-term, eating a good quality breakfast can increase feelings of alertness and motivation to learn. Children’s high metabolic turnover and rapid growth rates mean they need optimal nutrition. They have higher demands on their glucose (or energy) stores overnight as they sleep, and as they generally sleep longer than adults, children have a longer time without food overnight (‘fasting’ time). Therefore, eating a nutritious breakfast is especially important to provide fuel for the oxidation of glucose.
When blood glucose levels are low, hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol are released which can cause feelings of agitation and irritability. This can then affect a child’s concentration and may even lead to tantrums and destructive outbursts. Children who don’t eat breakfast struggle to summon enough energy in the morning to cope with the demands of school while affecting their cognitive abilities.
Long-term effects
In the long-term, eating breakfast affects a child’s health, which in turn will have a positive effect on brain performance. Research has found that a good nutritional profile can lead to sustained improved performance. This would be much harder to achieve if kids skip breakfast.
Eating a good breakfast can lead to better academic performance and a higher enjoyment of school. Also, children who regularly skip breakfast are more likely to be disruptive in class or to be absent from school. Regular and consistent consumption of breakfast can lead to children learning to associate feelings of well-being with less hunger.
There is also an association with mental health and a good quality breakfast. Eating a breakfast with a range of food groups is linked to better mental health in young people. Common breakfast foods such as fruits, fortified breakfast cereals and milk are good sources of nutrients that affect brain function. Research has found that eating a breakfast with a variety of food groups that increase the intake of vitamins and minerals at the start of the day can lead to better mental health in adolescents.

Children who skip breakfast are also more likely to snack. Snacks eaten between meals can provide up to one-quarter of the daily energy intake in some adolescent populations. Since snacking is often associated with energy-dense food linked to the development of childhood overweight and obesity, educating children into a good breakfast routine at the start of the day is essential with the inclusion of nutrient-dense meals.
Few kids are eating breakfast lately
Breakfast skipping is common among adolescents and adults in western countries. Teen girls are the least likely to eat in the morning. A study of 10,000 children and young people found that approximately 20% of children and more than 31% of adolescent skipped breakfast regularly.
The reasons for this are usually poor time management or lack of appetite. But it’s also linked to parental influence. It is important to note that if you, as a parent, don’t eat breakfast in the morning, it’s likely your kids won’t either. I am a prime example of this as my parents never liked to take breakfast and I grew up with that same notion. Of course, that needed to change years later when ulcer slowly crept up on me. Parents serve as models for their kids as they would go on to do whatever it is that you are doing.
Health-compromising behaviors and unhealthy lifestyles have also been associated with breakfast skipping in young people. Smoking, alcohol and caffeine consumption are more likely among individuals who rarely eat breakfast.
What are the possible solutions?
As stated earlier, parents are models for their children to imbibe and follow. Modifications should begin with parents’ dietary patterns and breakfast regime where there is an absence so that children can see and understand the necessity of not missing out on this important meal for effective growth.
Also, due to the importance of a good breakfast and the association with mental alertness among children, breakfast clubs are becoming initiated in some schools. A review on the efficacy of school feeding programs found that many programs are done so to address the nutritional deficiencies that affect brain growth and performance in students.
Programs like these would help local communities to develop breakfast programs that suit schools’ needs by providing fact sheets on issues such as funding the programs and sourcing volunteers.
But there’s limited evidence as to how well school breakfast clubs do in increasing children’s breakfast consumption. And some researchers suggest there is even a lack of solid evidence on the benefits of eating breakfast on cognitive or academic performance. They say that school breakfast programs should not be used as an argument to bolster school performance.
Eating habits formed in adolescence continue into adulthood. Therefore, poor dietary patterns among young people have important implications for their life-long health and well-being. Continued education around the significance of eating a nourishing breakfast for children, adolescents and parents is essential.
Because parental influences can determine whether children and adolescents eat breakfast, encouraging parents to eat breakfast regularly can play an important role in getting kids to eat in the morning.

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