Breakfast- the most important meal of the day says researchers. Eating breakfast has been shown to improve children’s behaviour, performance and ability at school. On the other hand, poor eating patterns can damage growth and development. A healthy and balanced breakfast presents young people with the energy they need for the day, and the nutrients they need to stay focused.
To start the day off full of energy children need to eat a good quality breakfast, they need a lot more nutrition compared to adults as their bodies have higher demands due to the fact the sleep longer. They need the optimum amount of nutrition as they have a longer time without food while they’re sleeping. Therefore, eating a healthy breakfast is vital to produce fuel for the oxidation of glucose.
Children who do not eat breakfast struggle to concentrate at school and it causes low blood glucose levels which releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which can cause feelings of agitation and irritability, making them lash out. Eating a good breakfast can result in better intellectual performance and higher satisfaction of school. It is also said that children who regularly skip breakfast are more likely to be troublesome at school.
In the long-term, eating breakfast influences a child’s health in a positive manner as their brain is fuelled and ready to give an outstanding performance compared to those who skip breakfast. Research has found that a good nutritional profile can lead to sustained improved performance. Eating a nutritious breakfast with a variety of vitamins, minerals and food groups helps the mental health of adolescents. Research proves that milk, cereal and bread help the brain to function and become energised in the morning.
Eating breakfast fills you up so that there is no urge to snack throughout the day, children who skip breakfast tend to snack between meals. Snacking is often associated with sugary foods which is the main cause of child obesity. Therefore, providing children with a good breakfast routine at the start of the day is vital.
Sometimes breakfast is not the first thing on someone’s mind, and this is why it is a common occurrence for people to skip it. Studies show that teen girls are the least likely to eat in the morning. A study of 10,000 children and young people found that approximately 20% of children and more than 31% of adolescents skipped breakfast regularly.
Children tend to copy the actions of their parents, so if a parent skips breakfast, then the child will probably do the same. Another reason for not eating breakfast is usually poor time management or lack of appetite.
What can we do about it?
Breakfast clubs at school are a new development that allows children to go into school earlier to socialise and have a healthy and nutritious start to the day. A review of the efficacy of school feeding programs found that many programs are done so to help the performance of students.
Some researchers suggest there is “a lack of solid evidence on the benefits of eating breakfast on cognitive or academic performance”.
Children should learn to eat the correct food and make sure it is nutritious in order to stay healthy later in life. Parents should encourage their children to eat breakfast and lead by example, helping them to stay focused and improve their development.