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Eating a healthy breakfast everyday is important for children's physical growth and development as well as their mental health. Parents can encourage kids to eat breakfast consistently by being good role models and providing simple, nutritious meals.

We often hear parents, doctors and other experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and yet many children (and even adults) skip breakfast habitually. Studies found that about 8 to 12 percent of all school-aged children skip breakfast. Some eat breakfast occasionally, while others never get their morning meal during schooldays. Research also shows that by the time they become adolescents, up to 30 percent of these kids completely give up their morning meal.

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There are various reasons why children often skip breakfast. One of these is that many kids, especially older kids and teens, often stay up late at night doing homework and other activities, including part-time jobs. When they go to bed late, they often snooze to get a few minutes more of sleep in the morning, and then get up in a rush to go to school, without grabbing anything to eat. Some teens, especially girls, skip meals to avoid weight gain, saying that they are not hungry in the morning.

In spite of the growing trend of skipping breakfast among adults and children, nutritionists, doctors and other health experts reiterate the importance of eating a healthy breakfast regularly.

Research provides evidence on the positive effects of eating a healthy breakfast, which does not have to be an elaborate meal.

Why Kids Should Eat Breakfast Every Day

One of the most important reasons why children must be encouraged to eat breakfast daily is that it improves their over-all health. Eating a nutrient-dense meal in the morning provides them the opportunity to consume fiber-rich cereals and whole wheat breads, bone-building, calcium-rich dairy products and various other vitamins and minerals from fruits. This makes it easier for them to meet their nutrient requirements as recommended by dietary guidelines.

According to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, people who skip breakfast are less likely to meet their daily requirement for nutrients that a simple breakfast could provide. Consuming calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods like milk, yogurt and cheese is important, especially when bone and muscle growth are rapidly taking place. Aside from these, fruits, vegetables, cereals and other grains provide their bodies with the nutrients that help boost immunity against infections, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and other chronic conditions. These include vitamins A, C, D and B-vitamins, including folic acid.

Studies also show that after a good breakfast, children have more energy during the day, in contrast to those who do not eat anything in the morning, a group where tardiness and absenteeism are more common.

Eating Breakfast Promotes Healthy Weight

Childhood obesity is becoming a significant health problem, which experts believe may improve if more children eat a healthy breakfast daily. Studies show that eating breakfast is important in maintaining a healthy body weight. Children who do not eat in the morning are more likely to experience hunger long before it is time for lunch, and may have a tendency to snack on foods that are high in sugar and fat.

On the other hand, kids who eat breakfast consisting of whole-grains like oatmeal do not experience steep drops in their blood sugar levels later during the day. Experts therefore recommend avoiding sugary cereals, which can cause rapid peaks and falls in blood sugar levels.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • The Guardian. 32% of pupils skip breakfast before school, study finds. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/aug/16/third-pupils-skip-breakfast
  • JHSPH.Breakfast. http://www.jhsph.edu/offices-and-services/student-affairs/_documents/Breakfast The Diet Channel. 5 Important Reasons Your Child Should Eat Breakfast. http://www.thedietchannel.com/5-Important-Reasons-Your-Child-Should-Eat-Breakfast.htm Healthychildren.org. The Case for Eating Breakfast. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/pages/The-Case-for-Eating-Breakfast.aspx
  • NPR. A Better Breakfast Can Boost a Child's Brainpower. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5738848 Quality Health. 10 Reasons to Eat Breakfast. http://www.qualityhealth.com/dieting-articles/10-reasons-eat-breakfast BHG. Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids. http://www.bhg.com/recipes/healthy/breakfast/healthy-breakfast-ideas-for-kids/Photo courtesy of Pen Waggener via Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/epw/4903134042
  • Photo courtesy of Stephen Kruso via Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/is0crazy/2362544271
  • theguardian.com, jhsph.edu, healthychildren.org, npr.org, qualityhealth.com, bhg.com

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