Children who skip breakfast ‘more likely to have behavioural problems’, study finds
Children who skip breakfast or don’t eat breakfast at home are “more likely to have behavioural problems”, a new study has found.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, added that children who eat a healthy breakfast at home have “better mental wellbeing”.
It also found that children and teenagers who eat eggs and processed meat like bacon or sausages for breakfast are more likely to suffer behavioural issues than those who eat cereal.
While previous research has established the important role of a nutritious way to start the day, the new study is the first to look at the reported effects of whether kids eat breakfast, as well as where and what they eat.
Study author Dr José Francisco López-Gil, of the University of Castilla-La Mancha, said: “Our results suggest that it is not only important to eat breakfast, but it’s also important where young people eat breakfast and what they eat.
“Skipping breakfast or eating breakfast away from home is associated with increased likelihood of psychosocial behavioural problems in children and adolescents.
“Similarly, consumption of certain foods and drinks are associated with higher – for example, processed meat – or lower – eg, dairies, cereals – odds of psychosocial behavioural problems.”
To find their conclusion, the team studied data from the 2017 Spanish National Health Survey, which looked at children’s breakfast habits and their psychosocial health, including their self-esteem, mood, and anxiety levels.
The data included 3,772 Spanish residents between the ages of four and 14. The survey was completed by the children’s parents or guardians.
Dr López-Gil and the team found that eating breakfast away from home was nearly as detrimental as skipping the meal entirely.
The researchers suggest that this may be because meals away from home are frequently less nutritious than those prepared at home.
The results also showed that coffee, milk, tea, chocolate, cocoa, yoghurt, bread, toast, cereals, and pastries were all associated with lower chances of behavioural problems.
However, eggs, cheese, and ham were linked with higher risks of such issues.
“The fact that eating breakfast away from home is associated with greater psychosocial health problems is a novel aspect of our study,” Dr López-Gil said.
“Our findings reinforce the need to promote not only breakfast as part of a healthy lifestyle routine, but also that it should be eaten at home.
"Also, to prevent psychosocial health problems, a breakfast that includes dairy and/or cereals, and minimises certain animal foods high in saturated fat or cholesterol, could help to decrease psychosocial health problems in young people.”