Recent research suggests that a proper morning breakfast plays an important role in keeping your pre-teen and teenage children at a healthy weight and at optimal nutrition status.
A study conducted by researchers at the USDA and Baylor College of Medicine on the relationship of breakfast skipping and the type of breakfast eaten on nutrient intake and weight status in over 9,600 children aged 9-13 and adolescents aged 14-18 concluded that cereal is among the healthiest breakfast choices for kids and teens.
Children who ate cereal for breakfast ate less fat and cholesterol overall and ate more total carbohydrate, fiber, and several vitamins and minerals compared to children who ate other foods for breakfast or skipped breakfast altogether. Cereal eaters were also less likely to fall short on daily intakes of 5 key nutrients that are commonly under-represented in the diets of young people–Vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber–than other breakfast eaters or breakfast skippers.
The researchers also looked at characteristics of breakfast skippers, and found that although they tended to have lower total calorie intake than breakfast eaters, they still had higher body mass indexes (BMI) for their ages and a higher average waist circumference than those children and teens who ate cereal for breakfast. Teens who ate other foods for breakfast also had higher BMIs for age than breakfast cereal eaters. Among both children and teens, breakfast skippers were also significantly more likely to be obese than breakfast cereal eaters, and in teens, other breakfast eaters were also more likely to be obese than breakfast cereal eaters. Among all study participants, teenage girls were the group most likely to skip breakfast.
It is worth noting that this study was funded in part by Kellogg’s, a leading manufacturer of breakfast cereal. Nonetheless, its findings are consistent with other studies on the association between weight status and breakfast eating, and seem to imply that the nutritional quality of young peoples’ diets can be enhanced by making a daily habit of eating breakfast, and choosing a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal for the meal. For tips on choosing a healthy breakfast cereal, check out this article.