Trend: Most students tend to skip breakfast as they have no time to eat in the morning.

by Inoue Ayumi To some, missing breakfast can be seen as a way of saving time in the morning, or for losing weight. But those who skip the meal are more likely to have an unhealthy lifestyle and are two times more likely to be overweight. According to the results of the national MBF Healthwatch survey in Australia, when asked why children skip breakfast, just over half (51.6%) of parents said there was no time because of the pressures of being late for school or work, or because of sleeping in. The Consumer’s Journal shows that 25 percent of elementary students skip breakfast and 60 percent of students ages 9 to 15 skip breakfast. Both are due to the lack of time. Numerous demographical characteristics have been suggested to explain this trend, such as the diminishing occurrence of meal preparation in the home. The general lack of time for breakfast is due to the increasing numbers of families with two working parents, working moms, and single moms. Such factors can be said to have evolved into a common attitude that does not prioritise breakfast consumption over other morning activities that compete with that time allotment. Also, the steadily growing demand from today’s society for students to work and study harder are putting a pressure on these children, until they feel so stressed that they do not see the need for breakfast because it wastes time. They also do not want to be late for school and think that breakfast hinders their journey of being on time. Why Skipping Breakfast is Unhealthy

Skipping breakfast is thought to be associated to a number of negative effects, including disorder due to insufficient energy supply in the morning; the potential for overeating at other mealtimes, which could induce obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases; and many more problems. It impairs mental performance and causes low nutrient intake. 75 percent of kids who skip breakfast never catch up on their calcium intake. One-third fall short on protein. In general, many children are overfed but undernourished. Those who tend to skip breakfast seem to eat more snacks and consume more fat. Those who skip this important meal are two times more likely to be overweight, possibly because they are more likely to have unhealthy snacks mid-morning to boost their energy levels. Research shows that nearly all individuals who successfully maintain a weight loss eat breakfast daily. Studies in children and adolescents indicate an association between regular breakfast consumption and lower body mass index. Ironically, breakfast eaters consume more energy per day, yet are less likely to be overweight. They are also approximately 30 percent less likely to be overweight or obese.

Such periodic food insufficiency is linked to academic dysfunction. In a study involving six to 11-year-olds from food-insufficient and/or low-income families, the participants were found to have lower scores and were more likely to have repeated a grade. Children with poor nutrition during the brain's formative years score lower on tests of vocabulary, reading, arithmetic and general knowledge. Even healthy, well-nourished children who skip breakfast or lunch are less able to distinguish between similar images, have slower memory recall and commit more errors. Missing breakfast has the biggest impact on the cognitive function in kids whose overall nutritional status is/was poor. Studies show that people who eat breakfast tend to be in better moods. Breakfast gets one started on the right track for the day. Research shows that skipping breakfast results in reduced learning, lowered attention and poor food choices for the rest of the day. Children who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight, which in the long term can lead to the development of chronic health issues. Those who skip their morning meal tend to have overall worse eating behaviors and exercise less than those who do eat breakfast. People who skip breakfast also tended to have higher cholesterol, elevated insulin levels, and larger waist circumferences. Children who miss out on breakfast are also less likely to get the recommended intake of dairy, fruit and vegetables, which one needs to be able to have a healthy lifestyle. Also, those who ingest a daily breakfast meal have more than 50% lower levels of glucose coursing through their veins up to five hours after eating breakfast than people who do not consume breakfast. High blood glucose levels are strongly associated with diabetes and obesity. One would think eating a meal would naturally boost glucose levels, especially compared to not eating at all, but our bodies actually put breakfast calories to work immediately, quickly clearing sugar from the bloodstream. By comparison, researchers believe the absence of a morning meal causes the body to release stored sugars to compensate. Why breakfast is important

Breakfast consumption improves alertness and mood, word recall, memory, and lessens anxiety and irritability. Some studies have even shown that one’s psychosocial function improves as breakfast consumption increases, not to mention improved nutritional status. Studies consistently connect breakfast to improvements in academics, test scores, grades, and less school tardiness and a drop in studies. The brain runs on glucose. Breakfast replenishes glucose in the blood that is lost overnight. Breakfast is the body’s first shot of fuel for the day. Breakfast eaters generally meet the vitamin and mineral requirements for prevention of illnesses and disorders. They consume more fiber, vitamin C, calcium and folic acid. Unfortunately, children who miss breakfast do not make up for lost nutrients later in the day. Also, people who regularly eat breakfast have lower rates of Type 2 diabetes and are less likely to develop heart failure.

A breakfast high in carbohydrates releases serotonin, that keeps you focused and relaxed. A breakfast high in protein releases catecholamine, that enhances alertness. Eating breakfast also affects behavior. It decreases anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, and students are less likely to be fidgety and irritable early in the day. Children who regularly eat a morning meal have more energy, are less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior, and have a better attitude toward school. Children who eat breakfast are absent from school less often. They also spend less time in the nurse's office complaining of stomach pains. As ironic as it may be, children who claim they don't eat breakfast due to a lack of time in the morning are late more often than those who take time for a morning meal. Eating breakfast also helps to establish a normal eating pattern. Eating regular meals and snacks is key to maintaining a healthy weight throughout life. Increasing childhood obesity is actually due to the disappearance of normal eating patterns in many of today's households. How to prevent the trend from growing

Many researchers agree that the way to instill the habit of eating breakfast starts with the parents. Children imitate the behavior of adults, so if they don't see their parents eating breakfast, they are more likely to resist themselves. They are more likely to eat breakfast themselves if they see their parents eating breakfast each morning, and thus they are also more likely to develop healthier eating habits overall. Parents can encourage their children to eat breakfast by having them help plan the week's breakfast menu and making breakfast food readily available by storing them in low cabinets and having fresh fruit on the counter. Doing this the night before can help in the morning rush. Parents can also set the alarm 15 minutes earlier to allow for more time to eat in the morning. Healthy shakes and cereal bars are great for eating on the way to school. Toast, yoghurt and fruit are also quick and easy options. This quickly crosses out the excuse of having no time for breakfast in the morning, because there are plenty of alternatives to cereal like juice boxes, milk cartons, or breakfast bars. For those with little hunger in the morning, offer juice, milk or a fruit smoothie made with skimmed milk and fruit. It contains the amount of nutrients needed in the morning, but are made available in a different way to serve those who have small appetites or are almost never hungry. Also, students can choose foods that require little preparation, such as fresh and canned fruits, milk, yogurt, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, whole grain cereals or instant oatmeal. If preparing a meal before school each day is too troublesome, then make yourself a pot of oatmeal at the beginning of the week and heat up a small portion each day. A student can also buy five non-fat yogurts and cut up enough fruit for a week's worth of breakfast. In fact, breakfast does not necessarily have to include ‘breakfast food’; leftovers of self-prepared meals are better than any convenience store's offerings.

Bibliography - BBC News: Skipping breakfast linked to poor health, Thursday, 24 July, 2003 - Free College Essays: Importance Of Breakfast - Mr Breakfast.com: University of Tasmania (Australia) study, October 18, 2010 - Yahoo! Health: The 7 New Rules of Kids' Nutrition, by the Editors of Children's Health, Sunday, May 16, 2010 - The Diet Channel: 5 Important Reasons Your Child Should Eat Breakfast, by Erica Lesperance, RD, LD, Wednesday, October 4, 2006 - Science Daily: School Kids Skipping Breakfast Are Missing Healthy Brain Fuel, March 23, 2009 - California Polytechnic State University: School Breakfast Program: Efficacy and Impact, by Amber Ward, Dec 2009 - Peak Health Advocate: 5 Reasons Skipping Breakfast is a Bad Idea, by Kevin P. Donoghue, January 13, 2011 - Medical News Today: Don't Let Your Children Skip Breakfast, 31 Jan 2006

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