The impact of skipping breakfast
Skipping breakfast means:
Less essential nutrients
Research shows that essential nutrients missed at breakfast are not compensated for during the other meals of the day (6, 11, 32).
Less control over appetite
Breakfast helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, which regulates appetite and energy. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be hungry and overeat during the rest of the day (9).
Higher Body Mass Index
Breakfast consumption is associated with a lower incidence of people being overweight and obese. Data from the US has shown that children and adults who eat breakfast have healthier weights than children who skip breakfast (15, 42). This is supported by similar findings in Europe: a French study showed that obese and overweight children eat less at breakfast and more at dinner than their lean counterparts (2). In a Finnish study of 16 year olds and their parents, breakfast skipping among adolescents and adults, was associated with having a high Body Mass Index (BMI) (20). Overall, breakfast cereal consumers also tend to be slimmer and have a lower BMI than non-consumers (4, 11).
Reduced cognitive abilities
Skipping breakfast is particularly worrying among children, as breakfast helps to improve concentration at school. Research shows that children who skip breakfast are not as efficient in the selection of critical information in problem-solving as those who eat breakfast. (29, 31) Eating breakfast helps children to perform better in school, in both mathematical and creative tasks. (21, 43)
Despite these facts, skipping breakfast is common practice in Europe:
- Europeans on average skip breakfast 20% of the time and over 61% of Europeans miss breakfast more than once a week (5).
- In France alone, 38% of children aged 12-17 and more than 42% of young adults aged 18-24 skip breakfast at least once a week (16).
- 12% of Dutch children aged 10-18 also skip breakfast (44).
- A recent German study findsthat 1 out of 3 children miss breakfast completely, or rarely ever enjoy the meal before leaving the house on school days (8).
Common Myths and Misconceptions about breakfast
- "I don’t have time to eat breakfast". Preparing and eating a bowl of cereal takes less than 5 minutes in the morning and will provide you with great benefits. Can you afford to find 5 minutes to benefit from eating breakfast?
- "I don’t need breakfast". Not true – you wouldn’t expect a car to run without petrol and equally you cannot expect your body to run without fuel. Your body and mind will both work better during the morning after a breakfast is consumed.
- "Skipping breakfast does not matter – I can make up the missed nutrients later". False! The nutrients, vitamins and minerals missed at breakfast are not made up later in the day. People who skip breakfast have a less nutritious diet than those who eat this important meal (25, 36).
- "Skipping breakfast means loosing weight". False! Breakfast helps to kick-start daily metabolism, helping to process calories consumed later in the day. Also, people who skip breakfast tend to consume other and often unhealthier snacks later in the morning. hence, skipping breakfast is often found to be one of the most risk factors for obesity.