Breakfast: The most important meal of a child’s day

Children who eat a good breakfast tend to perform better in school, have better attendance, and exhibit fewer behavior problems.

Breakfast is such as hard meal for my family to fit into the day. When my children first started school as kindergarten through second grade they were given breakfast as part of the school day. According to No Child Hungry research demonstrates the importance of providing breakfast to children and youth is great. According to Michigan State University Extension children who eat a good breakfast tend to perform better in school, have better attendance, and exhibit fewer behavior problems. In addition, children who eat a good breakfast develop healthy eating habits, visit the school nurse less frequently, and are less likely to be obese. Despite the benefits of breakfast, for a variety of reasons, many kids aren’t able to eat a healthy breakfast at home in the morning. In my home the reason my children are unable to get a healthy breakfast is due to the fact that they get on the bus at 6:20 a.m. Many times my children grab a granola bar on the way out the door. But after an hour bus ride they are ready to eat again. However, this year the school changed their policy and now my children must choose between eating breakfast and playing with their friends before school.

But the evidence that suggests that breakfast is a meal not-to-be-skipped is overwhelming. In fact, I have never encountered a study that suggests the opposite.

Here a look at some of the research showing the possible benefits of breakfast:

Diabetes: Skipping breakfast may increase a woman’s diabetes risk, according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Women who ate breakfast an average of zero to six times per week were at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than women who ate breakfast every day.

Heart Disease: Eating breakfast was associated with a lower incidence of heart disease in men between ages 45 and 82, according to a July study in the journal Circulation. The study also found that skipping breakfast was associated with hypertension, insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels.

Memory: A 2005 Journal of the American Dietetic Association review of 47 breakfast-related studies found that eating breakfast is likely to improve cognitive function related to memory and test grades. Translation: Eating breakfast is a smart move!

Weight Loss: In one recent study, people who ate breakfast as their largest meal lost an average of 17.8 pounds over three months. The other participants consumed the same number of total calories per day, but ate most of their calories at dinner, according to the study published in July in the journal Obesity. The large-dinner group only lost an average of 7.3 pounds each over the same time period.

If you have more questions regarding breakfast go to the Choose My Plate webpage.

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