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Jane Loprieno

Prof. Hilpert
10.12.15
The Importance of Breakfast
Breakfast has been known as the most important meal of the day, and yet, about 20% of
people do not consume it. (Affenito, S., 2007) Adolescent females and young adults are among
the populations most prone to skipping breakfast. Lack of time, food availability, and
suppressed morning appetite, often take the blame for this unhealthy habit. These age groups are
unaware of the benefits that come with eating a healthy breakfast. Studies have shown that
regular breakfast consumption yields a healthy diet pattern and overall quality of life,
demonstrating just how important breakfast is.
While sleeping, chemicals in the body are digesting food from the previous day.
(Breaking the Fast, 2011) Blood sugar levels are low in the morning due to the prolonged
hours without food. This is where the term breakfast comes from; a nutrient dense meal within
an hour of waking up is necessary to break the fast and prepare for the day. The many benefits
of breakfast begin with the energy and nutrients it provides to face the day and replenish and
power the muscles and brain. Those who eat breakfast on a daily basis show better academic
performance and psychological functioning. Feelings of hunger are linked to psychological,
academic, and behavioral problems among children. (Rampersaud, G., et al., 2005) Alleviating
the hunger causes them to be more focused and feel better, insinuating healthy habits. A
nutritious breakfast maintains a constant nutrient supply to the central nervous system which
enables the healthy behaviors. Beginning the day with a nutritious meal creates a pathway for

improved energy balance, regular eating patterns, and healthy living. These benefits make for a
favorable BMI and optimal health habits across the lifespan. (Oneil, et al., 2015)
Skipping breakfast causes the body to tap energy stores in muscles resulting in tiredness
and an imbalanced fasting and feeding system. (Breaking the Fast, 2011) This imbalance
causes people to overeat and snack on low nutrient value foods throughout the day, enabling an
increased BMI. The overweight epidemic among Americans, predominantly children, could be
linked to breakfast skipping. Over the years, daily breakfast consumption among children
decreases while the average child body weight increases. Due to their high metabolic needs,
consuming nutrient dense foods after waking up is especially important for growing adolescents.
The nutrient dense foods will induce satiety and children will be less likely to snack and overeat,
therefore, promoting a healthy body weight. Incorporating breakfast in the daily diet yields
regular eating habits, exercise patterns, healthful food choices, and consistent energy intake--all
factors contributing to a healthy BMI. Those who consume breakfast are more likely to make
health conscious choices for the following meals that day. (Affenito, S., 2007) Breakfast
consumers tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, and fewer soft drinks and empty
calories than breakfast skippers. Consequently, those who skip breakfast are at higher risk of
heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. (Oneil, et al., 2015)
The amount of food consumed at breakfast is important. Regular consumption of
breakfast promotes a healthy body weight, but portion sizes must be representative of individual
nutrient necessities. There are many people who consume breakfast but remain overweight for
which the cause could be linked to the quantity of breakfast regularly consumed. (Breaking the
Fast, 2015) People are likely to eat more total calories when starting the day with a heavy
breakfast instead of a well-proportioned breakfast. Ideally, breakfast should make up 20-35% of

total energy intake. Portion size should be appropriate for age, gender, and daily energy
requirements. (Oneil, et al., 2011) Those who are overweight are advised to reduce their
breakfast intake to the recommended range in hopes to influence a reduction of total calorie
intake. (Breaking the Fast, 2015)
Eating breakfast is important; however, reaping the benefits that breakfast has to offer is
only achieved when nutrient dense foods are consumed. (Oneil, et al., 2011) Many broadcasted
breakfast options reach their target market by informing them of the importance of breakfast, but
purposefully not informing them of what is contained in their product. Many cereals have high
amounts of empty calories, such as sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars. These ingredients
lead to several health problems and should be kept to a minimal consumption. (Oneil, et al.,
2011) Saturated fat should only be 10% of total daily energy, added sugars should not surpass
25% of carbohydrate intake, and sodium consumption should not exceed 2,300mg. (Brown J.,
2011)
Eating sugary cereals for breakfast will not improve nutritional or functional wellbeing.
(Oneil, et al., 2011) These foods will only increase appetite throughout the day and influence a
rising BMI. Sugary, fattening foods are associated with a high glycemic index, implementing
rapid digestion and blood sugar spikes. (Breaking the Fast, 2015) These spikes require a high
insulin release and resulting feelings of hunger soon after consumption. Bagels, pastries, and
sugary breakfast cereals are among the many foods that cause blood sugar spikes. It is advised to
only minimally consume these foods, no matter how tempting they may be. (Breaking the Fast,
2011)

The average shopper will briefly look at a cereal box and see certain labels they think
indicate a healthful breakfast, but it is important to determine whether they are actually nutritious
cereals or if they are made up of empty calories hidden behind a multigrain label, for example.
Multigrain only signifies that several grains make up the cereal, not necessarily whole grains.
(Rampersaud, G., et al., 2005) Whole grains are the ingredient that shoppers should strive for.
They contain dietary fiber that controls appetite and satiety while playing a protective role
against heart disease, cancer, digestive diseases, and obesity.
Most Americans do not meet the RDA for fiber. Fiber intake should reach 25g for
women and 38g for men, but the average American only consumes 10g. (Brown J., 2011) Fiber
can be found in carbohydrates of the whole wheat variety, and within fruits and vegetables.
(Breaking the Fast, 2015) It is very important to strive for these types of foods with a low
glycemic index and sources of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and plant enzymes to
promote a healthy diet pattern and quality of life. People do not nearly consume enough fruits
and vegetables and are depriving themselves of the health benefits that come with their addition
to a well-balanced diet. (Oneil, et al., 2011)
Ideally, at least three food groups should be consumed for breakfast. It is recommended
to meet a minimum of 10% of the daily value for as many nutrients as possible without
overeating. (Oneil, et al., 2011) This may be difficult, but keeping in mind that protein-rich,
nutrient dense foods are ideal, these recommendations are feasible. Acceptable breakfast choices
include eggs, lean meats, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and low fat or fat free dairy.
Incorporating these foods into your daily food intake supplies the body with fat soluble vitamins,
B vitamins, fiber, unsaturated fats, and several minerals. These foods support a healthful diet by
ensuring that nutrients of concern, such as calcium, vitamin D and K, and dietary fiber, are being

met. A high protein, high fiber breakfast aids in reaching adequate levels of protein for the day
while improving satiety and overall diet quality.
Not only does breakfast have a limitless list of health benefits, but studies have shown
that social benefits, especially within the family, also come with a healthful breakfast. (Affenito
S., 2007) Regular consumption of breakfast correlates with better moods and attitudes among
young adults. (Oneil, et al., 2011) Making breakfast into an essential family meal has been
linked to increasing adolescent communication with their parents, more time donated to family
oriented occasions, and less time spent alone with peers. (Affenito S, 2007) When educating
parents on the importance of breakfast for their children, nutrition professionals ensure that they
inform the parents of these benefits. This leads to an increase in family meals along with the
availability of healthy breakfast options within the home. As children age, they are known to
spend less and less time with their families, and engage in minimal healthful daily breakfasts.
Although these facts do not correlate with one another, a family oriented breakfast can be used to
implement an end to both of these unjust habits.
The increasing number of people omitting breakfast from their day to day life signifies
that knowledge regarding the several benefits of breakfast is grounded. It is up to nutrition
professionals, food industries, and government policy makers to work together to educate people
and create an environment where a regular healthy breakfast is feasible for the average
American. (Oneil, et al., 2011) Food Industries can continue to formulate nutrient-dense,
affordable, and transportable foods. Government policy makers should continue to provide
resources to families to ensure that they obtain healthful breakfasts. This includes funding
national food programs like the School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, and
Head Start. These programs provide children with a nutritious meal at school for breakfast, and

when school is no longer in session. Head Start educates the families that participate in these
programs to ensure their access to nutritious meals at the best of their economic abilities. (Oneil,
et al., 2011) Programs like these have depicted psychological, social, and academic
improvements in the students that take part. Child depression and hyperactivity were reduced
creating a more positive social environment for these students, simply because of a nutritious
meal. (Rampersaud, G., et al., 2005)
Nutrition professionals are responsible for reaching the consumer on a personal level to
inhibit their reasons for skipping breakfast. (Oneil, et al., 2011) Most commonly, these reasons
fall under fear of weight gain, lack of morning hunger, time, and cost limitations. Advisory
recommendations should be individualized to peoples specific reason for skipping breakfast.
Those who do not eat breakfast for weight loss reasons should be informed that breakfast
consumption actually permits a healthy diet plan and controlled weight. Parents will often
ensure breakfast consumption for their children once they understand that a daily breakfast
promotes increased adolescent cognition, academic performance, and means for more family
time. Those on a limited budget can be advised of the many government provided nutrition
programs, provoking their involvement. In the cases of time constriction, simple strategies in
food preparation can be altered. Purchasing to-go meals to eat on the way and preparing meals
the night before to set out for quick and easy access are means to incorporate breakfast in the
pressed-for-time mornings. To-go meals may also benefit those who lack hunger in the
morning. Breakfast bars, trail mix, and dried fruit are nutritious options to accommodate these
appetites. Any reason for not consuming breakfast can be easily managed by simple education
and daily routine modification. The complete access to nutrition education and healthful

breakfast foods depict the importance of breakfast and how our society is making strides to
implement the consumption of breakfast within all American homes.
Studies and research regarding health and nutrition has made great strides in
understanding the human body, what it needs, and how it can provide an optimal quality of life.
The importance of breakfast is becoming lost and forgotten in American diets today. It is
essential that people understand just how important their health is and the simple ways to nourish
their bodies to provide numerous improvements. A nutritious meal each morning promotes
mental, physical, and social health throughout the day and across the lifespan.

Reference List
Affenito, S. (2007). Breakfast: A Missed Opportunity. Journal of the American Dietetic
Association, 107(4), 565-569.
Breaking the fast: The timing and the contents of breakfast make it perhaps the most important
meal of the day. (2011). Harvard Health Letter, 36(8), 4-5.
Brown, J. (2011). Nutrition Basics. In Nutrition through the life cycle (5th ed., p. 4). Belmont,
CA, California: Wadsworth, CENGAGE Learning.
O'neil, C., Byrd-Bredbenner, C., Hayes, D., Jana, L., Klinger, S., & Stephenson-Martin, S.
(2014). The Role of Breakfast in Health: Definition and Criteria for a Quality Breakfast.
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(12), 8-26. Retrieved October 16,
2015, from http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.oneonta.edu:2048/science/article/pii/S2212267214013550
Rampersaud, G., Pereira, M., Girard, B., Adams, J., & Metzl, J. (2005). Breakfast Habits,
Nutritional Status, Body Weight, and Academic Performance in Children and
Adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(5), 743-760.