Everyone has heard the statement, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but do you know why? Research has shown that skipping the first meal of the day increases the chances of becoming obese because it usually results in consuming more calories the rest of the day. Also, children who skip breakfast often find themselves feeling tired and unable to concentrate in school; resulting in poorer academic performance than kids who eat breakfast. A healthy breakfast should contain whole grains, low-fat protein, low-fat dairy and fruits.
As I’ve written about many times before, childhood obesity is a health crisis for not just young Latinos, but all American children. In an effort to better understand the reasons behind this epidemic, scientists at Temple University surveyed 369 fourth through eighth graders to find out just what kids were eating for breakfast.
About half of the kids surveyed were at a healthy weight; the rest were overweight or obese.
Here are their findings:
- 20% skipped breakfast all together; 55% ate one breakfast, and about 25% had two or more breakfasts.
- 59% of breakfast-eaters consumed the first meal of the day at home, with 45% of those eating cold or hot cereal; 39% drank milk or ate yogurt or cheese; 32.5% drank water.
- 31% ate breakfast at school in the cafeteria or their classroom. About 38% of those kids drank milk; 48% drank 100% juice; 24% ate waffles, French toast or pancakes.
- 18% of kids grabbed breakfast at a corner store on their way to school, with 34% eating chips such as potato chips, Doritos or Cheetos; 24% ate candy; 34% drank sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, juice, lemonade and fruit drinks.
The results of the survey point to two areas of concern. First, too many kids are eating too many breakfasts. Parents, if your kids are eating at home, make sure they are not also having breakfast at school. Two or more breakfasts will only pack on the pounds. Second, your kids should either eat breakfast at home or at school-not at the corner store. They’re buying obesity-promoting junk foods that contain sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, processed grains and trans fats.
Fact- middle and high school students who go to school just a short walk from a fast-food restaurant are more likely to be obese than students at other schools.
Being a parent, I know kids stop at the fast food restaurant for a quick breakfast on the way to school. If you have to have fast food, try to make healthier choices. Here are some examples of poor and better breakfast choices at fast food restaurants:
- A poor choice would be, McDonald’s, Deluxe Breakfast with regular size biscuit which contains 1070 calories. A better choice would be an egg McMuffin with 200 calories.
- A poor choice would be, Burger King’s, Double Croissan’Wich with sausage, egg, & cheese which contains 680 calories. A better choice would be the Ham Omlett Sandwich with 270 calories.
- A poor choice would be, Subway’s, Footlong Mega Breakfast Sandwich with 1310 calories. A better choice would be, Egg White and Cheese Muffin Melt with 150 calories.
Understanding children’s breakfast habits is one step towards fighting childhood obesity. Parents and teachers must use this information to help their children make healthier choices.