Skipping breakfast doesn't influence later meals
Skipping breakfast may not change how much food a child eats during the rest of the day. But missing the morning meal still carries consequences.
Breakfast is an important part of a healthy diet. A healthy breakfast provides many important nutrients that are crucial for children's growth and development. Children who skip breakfast may not make up for those missing nutrients later in the day.
Some evidence has suggested that the increasingly common practice of skipping breakfast could lead children to overeat at later meals, and eventually put on extra weight. Yet few studies have rigorously tested whether that's what really happens.
Researchers set out to assess the effect of skipping breakfast on appetite and total calories consumed during the rest of the day among 21 kids in America between the ages of 8 and 10 years, most of whom were regular breakfast eaters. Each child visited the testing lab twice. One time they were fed a breakfast of cereal, milk, banana and orange juice; on the other visit they were not. On both occasions, the children were later served lunch, which they could choose from an array of foods - including pasta, broccoli and cookies - and were told that they could eat as much or as little as they wanted over a period of 20 minutes. The children were then free to leave the lab and parents reported back what the kids consumed during the remainder of the day.
It was found that the children said that they felt hungrier throughout the morning when they did not eat breakfast. However, that didn't necessarily translate into larger lunches. Despite differences in feelings of hunger and fullness, children who regularly consumed breakfast did not make up for the missing calories from a skipped breakfast on a single occasion by eating more later in the day. As a result, the children who ate breakfast ended up consuming more calories overall and more than they needed to maintain their current weight.
The average child took in 362 more calories on days when they did eat breakfast, pushing them about 20 percent over their estimated daily energy requirement - a number based on height, weight, sex and activity levels. The disconnect between the children's stated hunger levels, physical energy needs, and how much they actually ate may be explained by other factors, according to the researchers.
A child's food intake is very much influenced by factors in the environment, such as the amounts and types of foods that are available. Hence, these environmental factors can override feelings of hunger and fullness. Studying children with a wider range of body weights and ages, or children who regularly skip breakfast, may have yielded different results, the researchers concluded. Therefore the above findings support not skipping breakfast, which is an important part of a healthy diet.
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