Breakfast Plus Exercise May Be the Key to Healthy Teens At Healthy Weights
Turns out breakfast is not just for champions but for teens and a healthy weight, so says a new study from the March 2008 issue of Pediatrics. So, perhaps pushing more is just what we all should be doing.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota followed teens over a 5 year period and found that regular breakfast consumption was associated with a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to teens who didn’t eat breakfast regularly. What was interesting was there seemed to be a dose response independent of all other variables – meaning that the more breakfast days there were, the lower the BMI. And, this trend was found in both boys and girls.
The breakfast skippers tended to be non-white, from lower socio-economic brackets, older teens and had higher BMIs.
The frequent breakfast eaters were noted to be more physically active compared to the non-breakfast eaters. An interesting observation is this study is that breakfast frequency seemed to decrease as the teen years progressed in general, and that many teens use skipping breakfast as a way to control their weight.
What we can say about these results is that breakfast seems important. What we can also say is that there seems to be a societal gap right now in who is having breakfast and who is not. This is a teachable moment for public health programs and for educators and coaches to keep in mind when working with youths who fall into the breakfast-skipping group. This group is worrisome because they are at risk for obesity and, because they are teens, the weight problem could persist into adult life if not controlled right away. Having a high BMI as a teen is an ominous sign for later adult weight issues, which can lead to all sorts of other problems such as type II diabetes and heart disease.
The points you need to convey are very simple:
- Daily breakfast is important for a healthy weight
- Physical exercise is important for a healthy weight
- Breakfast and physical exercise together seem to be the magic equation for a healthy weight
With teenagers, teachable moments are the best way to help them learn how to be healthy. Long lectures never do the trick! If you have a family structure where an adult in the house can get up with the kids to ensure a daily breakfast, that is the ideal situation. This may mean getting up a bit earlier yourself but you can use that as a meal moment with your teen. Other studies have shown great value in the family meal. While these studies have focused on dinner, whose to say that meal couldn’t be breakfast?
In my family, we have breakfast together often and sometimes that can be the best way to start everyone off on the right foot! It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. You don’t have to become June Cleaver and start making ham and eggs every morning. The goal is just to be sure that every child in your home has breakfast every day.
Article written by Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, MD, FAAP from the MomsTeam