Is Skipping Breakfast Really That Big of a Deal for Kids?

John Bachman
2 Mins
Is Skipping Breakfast Really That Big of a Deal for Kids?

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” We’ve all heard it. We’ve probably said it. And yet, most of us don’t treat it as such. And that goes for our kids, too.

Get everyone dressed (hopefully with matching shoes and a shirt facing forward) and make sure lunches, snacks (allergen-free, of course!) and homework are packed. 

Dress yourself. 

Get to the bus stop, school, day care and work on time.

Who has time for breakfast?

And with some kids… they’re just not hungry! So, is it really that big of a deal if your child skips breakfast? Let’s see what the experts say...

What Are the Brain Effects of Fasting?

Regardless of the reason – lack of time, lack of hunger or just that nothing sounds appealing – your child’s brain is dramatically affected by not receiving morning fuel. A study from the University of Kansas Medical Center showed that children who did not eat breakfast scored lower than their fed counterparts on standardized tests in areas of reading comprehension and fluency, math and spelling.

Even if your little one isn’t taking a test, children skipping breakfast often have more difficulties with focus, attention and behavioral issues.

Providing Nutrients

Every time your child eats, you have an opportunity to provide balanced nutrition. Often, breakfast is one of the best times to influence what your child eats. An analytical study out of Australia revealed that children who skipped breakfast also were more likely to have deficiencies in nutrients, including:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • B group vitamins (riboflavin, niacin and thiamin)

Establishing Patterns of Behavior

Approximately eight to 12 percent of all school-aged children skip breakfast. It may be for lack of financial resources, time, or interest. An even more alarming stat is that as many as 20 to 30 percent of teenagers forego the morning meal! This could reflect an occasional pattern formed in childhood taking root and becoming a regular habit in teenage years. 

Of course, teenagers have their own challenges, including exhaustion from late nights, whether studying or partying. Unfortunately, school hours often start early, not aligning with teens’ habits of staying up late. When given the choice between 15 extra minutes of sleep or breakfast, many kids choose sleep.

Forming Healthy Habits

Some teens (or parents for their children) may also look at skipping breakfast as a way to manage weight. However, breakfast eaters actually tend to have healthier weights than those who skip. Numerous studies have suggested this, though causation is not established.

What is established, however, is that people who eat breakfast tend to have other healthy habits as well. Breakfast eaters typically:

  • Eat a healthier overall diet, including more fiber and micronutrients
  • Are less prone to obesity
  • Are less prone to chronic disease
  • Exercise more

Non-breakfast eating adults tend to have the following less healthy habits

  • Smoke more
  • Drink alcohol more
  • Exercise less
  • Have a higher BMI

And while causation cannot be proven, it is possible that one healthy habit leads to others. Eating breakfast is a simple habit to establish, especially if it encourages a lifestyle of overall wellness.

What Makes a Breakfast Healthy?

To learn more about healthy breakfast options, please check out our BIPRI blog post on healthy breakfast options for kids. If you’re looking for a delicious, nutritious breakfast option to establish lifelong healthy habits with your child, while also fueling their mind and body for the day, try Brain Focus Bars for Kids.

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