For school success, make breakfast part of the morning routine
Joyce M. Martin RD, LDN | 08.30.13
School is back in session and parents and students have returned to the hectic morning routine. How will you break your body’s fast from the past 8-10 hours? Will you break it with breakfast or will you wait until lunch?
Breakfast is an important part of the day particularly for school aged children.
Many children skip breakfast and for a variety of reasons. Often times a few more minutes of sleep is a higher priority than eating breakfast and often children are not awake long enough to be hungry or at least know that they are hungry. They simply head off to school without breakfast. Another reason for not eating breakfast may be related to finances. With today’s economy, some families may not be able to afford food and again those children leave for school with empty stomachs. Finally young teenage girls may choose to skip breakfast in an effort to avoid gaining weight.
It has been well documented that breakfast is an important part of the day particularly for school aged children. It is very difficult to get the recommended number of grain servings into the diet and especially the adequate amount of fiber when skipping breakfast. Often times, skipping breakfast results in overeating later in the day. It may also result in the selection of inappropriate foods. Persons become so hungry that they eat whatever is available.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Kids Eat Right effort, healthy breakfast provides the following benefits:
Skipping breakfast results in overeating later in the day.
- Adolescents who eat breakfast tend to have a lower BMI or body mass index (a number calculated from a person’s weight and height which provides an indicator of body fatness and often is used to screen for potential health problems which may result later in life)
- Children who eat breakfast tend to eat more fruit and drink more milk
- Breakfast eaters have higher nutrient intakes of calcium, fiber, folate and protein
- Performance in the classroom improves resulting in improved test results, improved speed and memory on cognitive tests, fewer mistakes and faster performance in math, and improvement on concentration for mental tasks
- Reduced rates of absence and tardiness
- Reduced discipline referrals to the principal and reduced school nurse visits
- Behavioral problems are reduced
Breakfast eaters are less likely to be overweight.
Breakfast can be a simple meal, yet be quite nutritious. It does not even need to be traditional breakfast food. Left-overs from the evening before can be incorporated into breakfast.
For those busy households where breakfast can’t be prepared prior to your children leaving for school, consider providing the funds for your student to purchase a breakfast at school. Most local schools provide breakfast as part of their school lunch program. If finances are a problem, assistance may be available by completing an application for help with school meals.
Whether eating breakfast at home or at school it is too important to avoid eating something as you begin your day. So enjoy breakfast and have a great school year!
Joyce M. Martin RD, LDN is a clinical dietitian at WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital. She can be contacted at (717) 337-4107.
Click here for an infographic about the issue of childhood obesity and ways for parents to help transform their kids' health!
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