Girls who eat breakfast every day are less likely to be overweight than those who skip breakfast, according to a study published in The International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.
The study, conducted by researchers in Cyprus, examined the breakfast consumption habits of 1558 children aged four to eight, and compared their body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood lipid profile and waist circumference. They found that both boys and girls who ate breakfast daily had better overall nutrient profiles, and girls who ate breakfast every day were less likely to be overweight or obese.
The study’s authors suggested that this difference between girls and boys might be explained by “boys’ higher physical activity levels”, although they acknowledged that further research was needed to investigate this possible link.
Those children who ate ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast cereals tended to have the best nutrient intake profiles, while those who ate pastry products for breakfast had the least favourable nutrient intake profiles, with fat intake reaching 38% of total energy.
Study author Stalo Papoutsou, dietitian and associate investigator at the Research and Educational Institute of Child Health in Cyprus, said: “We want to encourage health professionals to promote the benefits of daily breakfast consumption, and educate parents and children to make the right breakfast choices in order to ensure higher consumption of micronutrients and fibres, whilst reducing intake of sugar and fat.”
The most popular breakfast among the children was milk alone – including low fat, skimmed, full fat, plain, chocolate, flavoured or sugar added milk – which was consumed by 41.2% of boys and 39.1% of girls.
Ready-to-eat cereals were eaten by 25.6% of boys and 25.7% of girls; pastry products by 7.6% of boys and 8% of girls; and 25.6% of boys and 27.2% of girls ate other breakfast items.
Those who ate cereal had the highest fibre intakes of all the children, although low-fibre varieties tended to be the most popular. Milk and pastry consumers had a significantly lower sodium intake than cereal consumers.
Overall, just under two-thirds of children reported eating breakfast every day.
Source: International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition
“The combination of daily breakfast consumption and optimal breakfast choices in childhood is an important public health message”
Authors: Stalo Papoutsou, George Briassoulis, Charalambos Hadjigeorgiou, Savvas C. Savva, Tonia Solea, Antje Hebestreit, Valeria Pala, Sabina Sieri, Yiannis Kourides, Anthony Kafatos, and Michael Tornaritis