The Risks of Skipping Breakfast During Adolescence
Skipping breakfast during adolescence is more common than you might think. Actually, between 16 and 30% of teenagers don’t have breakfast. Even though breakfast seems to be one of the most important meals of the day, they tend to skip it or grab the first thing they find to eat. This is mostly due to lack of time.
As a parent, you probably worry about this. Therefore, we’d like to discuss whether having breakfast is good for your children’s health and cognitive performance or not.
Regardless of the evidence in favor of having breakfast, there isn’t any focus on what kind of food it should include. In addition, teenagers who tend to skip breakfast also tend to spend a lot of time in front of a screen, be overweight or obese, and almost never exercise.
Another myth related to breakfast is that it has to include certain types of food, when in fact, there are many options depending on where you live. You may find bread and eggs, cold meat, milk, fruit, beans and sausages. Most times, the breakfast options we find are unhealthy, because they include artificial juices and processed baked goods.
Breakfast and academic performance
Students who have a healthy breakfast have better concentration, attention and memory.
There’s even a Spanish research about the relationship between breakfast and mood or emotions. It states that it’s not about skipping breakfast or not. It’s actually about choosing nutritious foods that contain essential nutrients, such as omega-3, vitamins and antioxidant minerals. These nutrients also help reduce depression.
So, it would be a good idea for breakfast to include dairy products, fresh fruits, nuts, a sandwich or a slice of bread, canned fish or legumes pate, roasted peppers, etc.
Does skipping breakfast during adolescence increase the risk of obesity?
Most people believe that having five meals a day is a standard healthy diet. Then, if they want to lose weight, and skip one of those, they go mad thinking they’ll be hungrier later in the day. On the other hand, some people believe that by skipping breakfast, they’ll lose weight.
The most recent research proves that the prevalence of obesity is higher in teenagers who don’t have breakfast, because they tend to replace breakfast with food that contains more caloric value, fat and sugar. Actually, skipping breakfast could be beneficial if they choose healthy food instead.
Does this have an impact on cardiovascular risks?
Cardiometabolic risks have also been studied. According to the ERICA study, skipping breakfast is associated with abdominal obesity, high blood sugar and insulin, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
Even though a systematic review shows the same results, it states that there’s no causal relationship between this and the low quality of breakfast. Plus, the same happens with socioeconomic status, sex and the time spent without eating.
Should teenagers skip breakfast or not?
To sum up, breakfast is just the first meal you have after spending several hours without eating. So, it doesn’t matter at what time you have it. Thus, if your adolescent children aren’t hungry when they get up, don’t force them to eat. You can prepare something for them to eat when they feel hungry.
Furthermore, if they’re having sweet chocolate milk and cookies for breakfast, it’ll be better to skip it. This type of breakfast will definitely affect their concentration and health in a negative way.
If this is the case of your children, you should replace the cookies with toast with cheese or tuna, or a bowl of oatmeal with berries.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Skipping breakfast among Australian children and adolescents; findings from the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Aust N Z J Public Helath, 41(6): 572-78.
- Skipping Breakfast and a Meal at School: Its Correlates in Adiposity Context. Report from the ABC of Healthy Eating Study of Polish Teenagers. Nutrients
- Effect of Eating Breakfast on Cognitive Development of Elementary and Middle School Students: An Empirical Study Using Large-Scale Provincial Survey Data. Med Sci Monit, 25: 8843-53.
- et al (2014) The effect of breakfast composition and energy contribution on cognitive and academic performance: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr, 100(2): 626-56.
- (2016) The Effects of Breakfast and Breakfast Composition on Cognition in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review. Adv Nutr, 7(3): 590-612.
- Skipping breakfast is associated with the presence of cardiometabolic risk factors in adolescents: Study of Cardiovascular Risks in Adolescents – ERICA.
- A Systematic Review of the Association of Skipping Breakfast with Weight and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Children and Adolescents. What Should We Better Investigate in the Future? Nutrients, 11(2): 387.
- Eat or Skip Breakfast? The Important Role of Breakfast Quality for Health-Related Quality of Life, Stress and Depression in Spanish Adolescents. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 15(8): 1781.