A child who does not eat breakfast is 43% more likely to be obese than another who eats in a balanced way. In addition, the first meal of the day should include dairy products, cereals and fruit, although very few children eat this last food in the morning. In fact, it is stigmatized that the proportion of children who eat breakfast properly does not reach 3%. This is one of the reasons, along with sedentary life, which has ‘helped’ to shoot up childhood obesity rates in recent years, according to experts.
Thus, according to the review of the study ‘The role of breakfast and its quality in the health of children and adolescents in Spain’, promoted by the Danone Institute, not eating anything before going to class increases the risk of childhood obesity. So much so that children who skip breakfast are up to 43% more likely to be overweight.
The link between skipping breakfast and obesity has two possible explanations. For some researchers it helps to make a lower energy intake during the rest of the day. “It is the first meal after many hours of fasting. If we skip it, we will arrive at noon with a greater feeling of hunger, so we will eat with more anxiety and surely more quantity”, explains Mari Carmen Vidal Carou, Professor of Nutrition and Bromatology, member of the Scientific Committee of the Danone Institute and one of the authors of the study, where they emphasize that calories are metabolized more efficiently in the early hours. The other explanation? “If our body does not receive the necessary energy supply, it becomes thrifty and burns less energy because it knows that it will be time without eating,” they add. “Some studies also show that those who skip breakfast also have less healthy eating habits and are generally more sedentary,” says Dr. Luis Moreno Aznar, another member of the Danone Institute and a research participant.
According to this work, almost half of the children (49.7%) take a dairy product, mainly milk and yogurt, combining it with cookies, bread or morning cereals. «The main mistake is that they do not include fruit. Sometimes a juice is consumed, but it is not the same as whole pieces,” they stress.
Specialists point out that another aspect that makes a healthy breakfast is its caloric intake. In this way, they advise that this meal covers 20% of the daily energy requirements. Also, as a general rule, high-calorie, low-nutrient-density products that simply provide calories, fat, sodium, and sugar should be avoided. “Not only is what they take important, but also how they do it,” they clarify. “The habit of sitting down to breakfast with a certain calm does not apply. That makes it very difficult to make this meal completely. We should be aware of its importance and get up a little earlier, “they advise.
In addition to an increased risk of cardiometabolic diseases, experts insist that breakfast provides nutrients to the brain, which are necessary to perform cognitive functions efficiently, supplying a considerable proportion of energy and being especially relevant after an overnight fast.
Hence, to get the most resistant kids to eat something, expert nutritionists advise following several
guidelines so they don’t skip the most important meal of the day.
1. Do not force him to eat: It can be counterproductive, obtaining in response a flat denial and even tantrums.
2. Choose attractive food: choose foods that he likes and combine them in such a way that he cannot resist them.
3. Play: Sometimes a nice and friendly presentation is all it takes to make you decide to try a bite.
4. Make him sleep wellSleeping well is related to appetite. A child who doesn’t get enough sleep will wake up tired and won’t be hungry.
5. Set an example: if he sees you having a complete and healthy breakfast, he will tend to imitate you.
6. Prepare a breakfast for school: If he is not hungry as soon as he gets up but is an hour or two later, send him a healthy and nutritious breakfast so that they can eat it at school.