Published: 06/02/2010 - Updated: 08/14/2019
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei
In this article we wish to highlight the importance of eating breakfast regularly made, it is a healthy habit that we acquire in childhood and which must be present the rest of our lives.
Breakfast and quality
Breakfast provides energy and nutrients needed to start the day properly.
Eating breakfast regularly is associated with better nutrient intake and may help maintain a healthy body weight.
It is especially important for children and adolescents as breakfast facilitates learning and improves academic performance, particularly in children with poor nutritional status.
Breakfast is the food that we usually "skip” and it is important that the European public are aware of the benefits it brings.
Most children and young people are rapidly being asleep, state in which the body has fasted for several hours at a state of great activity. This increases the demand for glucose in the muscles and brain, so they need to "fuel." Breakfast ends with an overnight fast and provides energy to stimulate the activity of the body and mind. However, from 10 to 30% of European children do not eat breakfast, being teenagers and especially girls who skip the meal.
Food quality = more health
Compared with those who skip breakfast, children who do take it are more likely to meet nutritional recommendations and consume more vitamins, minerals and fiber. Just take a look at the usual composition of breakfast for children to see why, as dairy products, cereals, bread, juice, fruit and eggs are the most popular. Besides the nutritional aspect, those who eat breakfast have healthier habits, including increased consumption of fruit and vegetables, and physical activity.
At present there is clear evidence showing that children who eat breakfast tend to be thinner. Recently, the systematic review of sixteen studies of more than 59,000 European children and adolescents on the effect of skipping breakfast on weight control found that consumption was associated with lower body mass index (a measure of weight relative to the height) and apparently protected in overweight and obesity. Other studies show similar findings. However, as in the case of all observational studies, one cannot infer a cause and effect.
Initial studies conducted in laboratory confirmed the positive effects of breakfast on performance indicators, including the recovery of memory, concentration and creativity. A recent systematic review examined 45 studies in laboratories and schools to determine if breakfast does indeed have an impact on school performance.
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European campaign to promote breakfast
In the United Kingdom, in the late 90s, after proving the benefits of breakfast, there were created initiatives such as breakfast clubs in schools. Apart from its nutritional benefits, these clubs provide social interaction for children; they can start the day more relaxed and have been shown to improve punctuality, behavior and care; effects are likely to benefit children's learning. However, although in most studies in breakfast clubs have seen an improvement in motivation and concentration of children in morning classes, the benefits are more clear in children who initially had a lower nutritional status of optimal level.
Taking into account the many benefits of breakfast and the number of children who do not take it, it’s not a surprise that in 2008 the "Breakfast is Best" campaign appeared to promote it. The European Medical Association, the European Federation of Associations of Dietitians, the European Association of Teachers and other European authorities on health were behind this initiative, also has the support of the Directorate General Health and Consumers of the European Commission. The objective of this initiative is to promote the benefits of breakfast to those responsible for policy development and encourage the use of messages such as "have breakfast every day" in public health campaigns and school programs.
Begin at home …
Breakfast improves the overall nutrient intake and is associated with the performance and weight control, providing the individual caloric needs. It is more likely that children and adolescents eat breakfast in families where the adults eat too. So, encourage parents to lead by example. Where this is not possible, school breakfast clubs are an alternative to serve a nutritious breakfast and provide important social benefits.
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