The evidence is unequivocal; eating breakfast in childhood can help prevent a plethora of lifestyle diseases and can generally promote well-being. Almost 1 in 5 children under the age between the ages 2-5 are overweight in South Africa1. The same proportion of children between the ages 10-14 years in the same study, never have breakfast1.
A regular breakfast including oat-, barley-, or psyllium-based cereals is associated with a reduced risk of abnormal lipid profiles, high blood pressure or heart disease. Indeed, large systematic reviews children showed children who that habitually eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight 2,3 Other benefits include better blood glucose control, less insulin resistance and a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, even after adjusting for differences in BMI, socio-economic status and physical activity levels4. Eating a well-balanced breakfast can avoid overeating associated with discretionary nibbling in between meals especially that of snacks that are high in sugar and/or fat5.
The benefits of eating breakfast go beyond associated positive clinical outcomes, although these are obviously significant. Installing the breakfast habit in children can help establish other healthy lifestyle habits that can reduce the incidence of lifestyle diseases in the future. Children who eat breakfast are more likely to be fitter, to abstain from smoking, less likely to drink alcohol or to have other unhealthy eating habits6,7.
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