Experts have long said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. New research now suggests that it may help prevent obesity in children as well. Kids who eat breakfast every morning have more energy throughout the day, improved learning and behavior and maintain a healthy weight according to a report released by the journal Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Previous studies have linked eating breakfast with maintaining a lower body mass index (BMI) over time. The new study looked at the role that breakfast, specifically cereal, plays in both weight and nutrition among low-income kids.
One in every four American children lives in a food insecure household where breakfast isn't a sure thing, lead author Dr. Lana Frantzen told Reuters Health.
"(Cereal) is an excellent breakfast choice, it's simple, and gets those essential nutrients that children need, especially low income minority children," who tend to be hit hardest by childhood obesity and related health problems, said Frantzen, who is employed by Dairy MAX, a regional dairy council in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Frazen and her co-authors interviewed 625 schoolchildren over a two-year period in San Antonio, Texas. Once a year they asked the children to remember what they had had to eat over the previous three days and calculated their BMI, a measure of weight relative to height.
Researchers found that as the children got older, they tended to eat breakfast less often. As fourth graders, 64 percent of the kids said they'd eaten breakfast on each of the last three days, compared to 42 percent by the time they were sixth graders.
Kids who ate cereal four out of the nine days tended to be in the 95th percentile for BMI, which is considered overweight, compared to kids who ate cereal all nine days, whose measurements were in the 65th percentile, in the healthy weight range.
Thirty-two percent of fourth graders did not eat breakfast at all, 25 percent had something other than cereal and about 43 percent had cereal.
Children who ate cereal for breakfast had higher recordings of certain nutrients than children who ate something else for breakfast or nothing at all. Kids who ate more cereal got more vitamin D, B-3, B-12, riboflavin, calcium, iron, zinc and potassium in their diets than kids who ate less cereal or none at all. They also got slightly more calories, fat, fiber and sugar.
All breakfast cereals are not the same. Many pediatricians and family doctors recommend choosing a whole grain cereal that has a low fat and sugar content as well cooked cereals such as oatmeal.
Whether it’s cereal, eggs or oatmeal, the important take away is that breakfast provides your child more energy and nutrients while helping to lower his or her chance of obesity. Just those three things can assist tremendously in helping your child have a healthier life.