A new study from Yale University and University of Connecticut researchers claims that children who eat breakfast at school are less likely to suffer from obesity or be overweight, as compared to kids who don’t. And this applies even to students who had already eaten breakfast before leaving for school.
The researchers observed 584 middle school students at a New Haven, Conn. school district that offers free breakfast and lunch to students. They tracked where the students would eat breakfast, and how often they would eat it, and kept tabs on their weight over two years, from the time they were in fifth grade (2011-12 school year) to the time they reached seventh grade (2013-14). Out of the children involved in the study, only about 10 percent of them ate breakfast at home and at school. But it was revealed that their weight change didn’t vary from that of the average student.
What did stand out, however, was the revelation that the kids who skipped breakfast, as well as those who inconsistently took advantage of free breakfast at school, had twice the odds of becoming overweight or obese than those who ate two breakfasts. This was more common for female students than male students, the study added.
“Our study does add to the argument that it’s really important to make sure that as many kids as possible are getting a healthy breakfast,” said researcher Marlene Schwartz of the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. “Especially in low-income communities, having universal access to healthy breakfasts is helpful.”
The study, which was published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, did not provide any clear answer as to why skipping breakfast is linked with weight problems. According to Schwartz, it’s impossible to determine what the children do throughout the day, without any hard evidence or data to back things up. She did hypothesize, however, that people who skip breakfast tend to overcompensate for their hunger by eating more later in the day, or tend to eat unhealthy foods. Additionally, overweight individuals may try to lose weight by skipping their first meal of the day.
The moral of the story? Kids, you’ve got to eat your breakfast as mom probably tells you.