HARTFORD, Connecticut – Kids who have no breakfast are more likely to be overweight than those who have two, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity.
A large number of kids in low-income areas are eating free breakfasts at school and there is a general concern that it could lead them to eat a double breakfast and ultimately increase their risk of obesity. But the research proves that the risk is imminent if children skip the first and most important meal of the day.
“Our study does add to the argument that it’s really important to make sure that as many kids as possible are getting a healthy breakfast,” said lead author Marlene Schwartz, of the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. She added that universal access to healthy breakfasts is particularly helpful in low-income communities.
Most U.S. public educational establishments offer breakfast, lunch and supper at no cost. Current residents of the White House and other advocates believe free meals at school are key to tackle hunger among kids who live in poverty in the United States. Federal data from 2012 revealed that about four million American families are not able to provide sufficient healthy food for their kids.
However, millions of scholars who are offered free or reduced-price breakfasts at school usually skip that meal, as reported by advocacy group Food Research and Action Center.
Schwartz and her team observed the breakfast habits and the weight of students from fifth grade to seventh grade enrolled in 12 schools in New Haven, Conn. Just a few of them had double breakfasts but their weight change over the years did not differ from the average weight change of all students, the paper states.
However, breakfast-skippers and students who consumed school breakfasts inconsistently were twice as likely to be obese than those who ate breakfast twice. These children who ate no breakfast were more commonly girls.
The lead author of the research remarked that double-breakfast eaters are eating very healthy meals which included fruit and a low-fat dairy and whole grains given that schools breakfasts are required to meet stringent federal nutrition guidelines. That explains why kids who eat a double ration in the morning are not gaining more weight than other students.
It is unclear why skipping breakfast leads to weight gain
Schwartz said it remains unclear what are the factors involved in the link between skipping breakfast and weight gain, which is why further research must be done to find out the reason of this association by using more reliable information about what people eat throughout the day.
Source: Washington Post