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  • Date :
  • 10/19/2008

Children who skip breakfast likely to be obese

Children who eat breakfast each day are half as likely to be obese as those who skip it, new research shows.

They eat less for lunch and tend not to snack between meals, experts say. The study looked at 15,000 five year olds born in the first two years of the millennium who were weighed and measured.

It found children who were obese were about twice as likely not to eat breakfast as children of normal weight.

Researchers also found those with unemployed parents were almost three times as likely to go without breakfast as those whose mothers and fathers were both working.

The study found about one in five of the children was either overweight or obese when they started school.

More than 17 percent of girls and 13.5 percent of boys were overweight and a further 6 per cent of girls and 5 per cent of boys were obese.

Professor Heather Joshi, director of the Millennium Cohort Study, said: "This may be due to the lack of a daily routine of rising early enough to eat breakfast.

"The consequence of not having breakfast is that children - and adults, of course - are more likely to get hungry before lunch and snack on foods that are high in fat and sugar. That could help to explain the link between obesity and not eating breakfast.

"It is also likely, of course, that parents who fail to give their children breakfast may be less organized about nutrition in general."

But Prof Joshi, of the Institute of Education at the University of London, added that economic pressures, such as the inability to afford healthy food, do not appear to be key contributors to weight gain.

She said: "Poor children in our study were no more likely to be overweight and only very slightly more likely to be obese."

Eating regular meals, other than breakfast, also appeared to have no influence on whether a child would be overweight or obese.

But the researchers did find an association between mothers’ education level and children’s weight.

Just three percent of the children of graduate mothers were obese, compared with eight percent of youngsters whose mothers had no qualifications.

Dr Colin Waine, immediate past chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: "This confirms what we have suspected for some time that breakfast is a good way to start the day for all children and is associated with reduced obesity levels and also better performance at school."

other links:

How to Remake Your Breakfast

The Importance of Breakfast

Big breakfast, new slimming diet

Obesity, lack of sleep not related

Fathers Influence Child Obesity

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