We all know that we should eat three meals each day. But, sometimes the day is filled with classes and work and household responsibilities, such as laundry and running errands. There is just too much to do. When time becomes so pressed, it is often easier to skip a meal, especially breakfast. Sure, one may be hungry, but skipping breakfast doesn’t impact health. Or does it?
According to an article published in 2012 in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers from Australia reported that it is not at all uncommon for teens, especially middle and late teens, to skip meals. However, this practice may have a “detrimental effect on multiple aspects of adolescent health.” While breakfast provides the energy to begin the day, it is the meal that is most often missed. And, females are more likely than males to skip meals. The researchers underscored the fact that adolescent behaviors are “strongly influenced” by family, friends, and peers. Teens who have two parents who eat breakfast will tend to eat breakfast. But, as the teens grow older, friends and peers play a greater role in whether they skip meals. In fact, after 3,001 male and female teens from Victoria, Australia, completed a Web-based survey, these researchers found that teens who thought their best friend skipped meals were at increased risk for skipping breakfast and dinner. Male and female teens who thought that their mothers frequently didn’t eat meals were at increased risk for skipping breakfast and lunch. The researchers maintained that their findings are important, “since little is known about the social influences of meal-skipping patterns of adolescents.” 1
In a study published in 2014 in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers from India examined the association between skipping breakfast and the prevalence of obesity. The cohort consisted of 186 subjects who visited a metabolic clinic. They were asked to complete a questionnaire on the food that they consumed during the previous 24 hours. The researchers found that 132 patients (71 percent) reported that they do not regularly consume breakfast. Of these, 84 (63.65 percent) were obese and 48 (36.3 percent) had a normal weight. Frequent breakfast eaters were more likely than non-breakfast eaters to have a normal body weight. When compared to males, more females were overweight; the difference between the males and females was statistically significant. “The skipping of breakfast impacted overweight positively.” 2
In a 2012 study published in Food & Nutrition Research, researchers from Norway examined the association between dietary factors and behavioral problems in teens in Norway. The cohort consisted of 236 male and 239 female students who were in the ninth and tenth grades. The students completed questionnaires about their dietary intake and how they behaved in school. The researchers found that teens who frequently ate breakfast and a moderate amount of fruit and fish had a lower incidence of behavior problems at school. “Having an optimal diet and not skipping meals are associated with decreased odds of behavioral problems at school in Norwegian adolescents.” 3
In a study published in 2010 in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers from Kansas City, Kansas, compared the impact of a normal protein breakfast to a protein-rich breakfast on appetite and food intake in adolescents who frequently skipped breakfast. The cohort consisted of 13 adolescents between the age of 13 and 17 years. During three separate five-hour testing periods completed on three different days, the teens had varied breakfast experiences. On one day, they ate a normal protein breakfast; on another day, they ate a protein-rich breakfast; and, on another day, they skipped breakfast. Blood samples were collected and questionnaires were completed. The researchers found that the participants who ate both types of breakfast had “increased satiety.” When they ate the meal with extra protein, there were additional reductions in appetite and subsequent meal intake. The researchers noted that their findings support the consumption of a breakfast rich in protein. Perhaps, they noted, additional research on this topic will help “to identify whether acute changes lead to long-term alterations in daily appetite control, food intake and energy regulation when breakfast is consumed on a daily basis.” 4
In an article published in 2013 in the Journal of School Nursing, a school nurse from South Elgin, Illinois, noted that although there is good evidence that eating breakfast has a number of positive effects on students’ academic achievement and psychosocial health, significant numbers of students do not eat breakfast. In general, students maintained that they missed breakfast because of a lack of time or an inability to eat early in the morning. Students also indicated that they did not want to participate in a breakfast program created for low-income students or to arrive earlier than the school starting time in order to eat breakfast. As a result, the author of the article described a breakfast program developed in her suburban high school “designed to provide students with opportunities to obtain a complete breakfast after the beginning of the school day.” The goal was to “reduce barriers and provide healthy options.” The school extended the breakfast cafeteria hours and offered a mobile cart filled with breakfast foods that students could purchase and consume during morning study hall classes. Though challenging to create, the breakfast program has been incredibly successful. “By the end of the school year, average daily school breakfast participation increased by more than 400 percent.” 6
In a study published in 2014 in Appetite, researchers from Canada and the United Kingdom investigated the association between bullying and cyberbullying and breakfast skipping. Data were obtained from the Eastern Ontario 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a survey of middle and high school students between the ages of 11 and 20 years. The data included self-reported information from 3,035 students on breakfast eating habits and instances of bullying victimization. Slightly more than half of the students reported that they regularly did not eat breakfast. Interestingly, victims of both cyberbullying and school bullying were more likely to skip breakfast.
The researchers commented that their study is the first “to provide evidence of (a) troubling relationship between cyberbullying, school bullying, and breakfast skipping.” The researchers advised parents who observe that their children are skipping breakfast to determine if their children are victims of cyberbullying and school bullying. 8
1. Natalie Pearson, Lauren Williams, David Crawford, and Kylie Ball, “Maternal and Best Friends’ Influences on Meal-Skipping Behaviours,” British Journal of Nutrition 108 (2012): 932-38.
2. Raksha Goyal and Sandeep Julka, “Impact of Breakfast Skipping on the Health Status of the Population,” Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism 18, no. 5 (2014): 683-87.
3. Nina Øverby and Rune Høigaard, “Diet and Behavioral Problems at School in Norwegian Adolescents,” Food & Nutrition Research 56 (2012): 17231+.
4. H. J. Leidy and E. M. Racki, “The Addition of a Protein-Rich Breakfast and Its Effects on Acute Appetite Control and Food Intake in ‘Breakfast-Skipping’ Adolescents,” International Journal of Obesity 34 (2010): 1125-33.
5. T. Kuroda, Y. Onoe, R. Yoshikata, and H. Ohta, “Relationship Between Skipping Breakfast and Bone Mineral Density in Young Japanese Women,” Asian Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 22, no. 4 (2013): 583-89.
6. Julia Olsta, “Bringing Breakfast to Our Students: A Program to Increase School Breakfast Participation,” Journal of School Nursing 29, no. 4 (2013): 263-70.
7. H. M. Sedibe, K. Kahn, K. Edin et al. “Qualitative Study Exploring Healthy Eating Practices and Physical Activity Among Adolescent Girls in Rural South Africa,” BMC Pediatrics 14 (2014): 211+.
8. Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga, Paul Roumeliotis, Claire V. Farrow, and Yuanfeng F. Shi, “Breakfast Skipping Is Associated with Cyberbullying and School Bullying Victimization. A School-Based Cross-Sectional Study,” Appetite 79 (2014): 76-82.
Cahill, Leah E., Stephanie E. Chiuve, Rania A. Mekary et al. “Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals.” Circulation 128 (2013): 337-43.
Fujiwara, Tomoko, and Rieko Nakata. “Skipping Breakfast Is Associated with Reproductive Dysfunction in Post-Adolescent Female College Students.” Appetite 55 (2010): 714-17.
Goyal, Raksha, and Sandeep Julka. “Impact of Breakfast Skipping on the Health Status of the Population.” Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism 18, no. 5 (2014): 683-87.
Griffith, D. M., A. M. Wooley, and J. O. Allen. “‘I’m Ready To Eat and Grab Whatever I Can Get’: Determinants and Patterns of African American Men’s Eating Practices.” Health Promotion Practice 14, no. 2 (2013): 181-88.
Hernández-Diaz, S., C. E. Boeke, A. T. Romans et al. “Triggers of Spontaneous Preterm Delivery—Why Today?” Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 28, no. 2 (2014): 79-87.
Kuroda, T., Y. Onoe, R. Yoshikata, and H. Ohta. “Relationship Between Skipping Breakfast and Bone Mineral Density in Young Japanese Women.” Asian Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 22, no. 4 (2013): 583-89.
Leidy, H. J., and E. M. Racki. “The Addition of a Protein-Rich Breakfast and Its Effects on Acute Appetite Control and Food Intake in ‘Breakfast-Skipping’ Adolescents.” International Journal of Obesity 34 (2010): 1125-33.
Olsta, Julia. “Bringing Breakfast to Our Students: A Program to Increase School Breakfast Participation.” The Journal of School Nursing 29, no. 4 (2013): 263-70.
Øverby, Nina, and Rune Høigaard. “Diet and Behavioral Problems at School in Norwegian Adolescents.” Food & Nutrition Research 56 (2012): 17231+.
Pearson, Natalie, Lauren Williams, David Crawford, and Kylie Ball. “Maternal and Best Friends’ Influences on Meal-Skipping Behaviours.” British Journal of Nutrition 108 (2012): 932-38.
Sampasa-Kanyinga, Hugues, Paul Roumeliotis, Claire V. Farrow, and Yuanfeng F. Shi. “Breakfast Skipping Is Associated with Cyberbullying and School Bullying Victimization. A School-Based Cross-Sectional Study.” Appetite 79 (2014): 76-82.
Sedibe, H. M., K. Kahn, K. Edin et al. “Qualitative Study Exploring Healthy Eating Practices and Physical Activity Among Adolescent Girls in Rural South Africa.” BMC Pediatrics 14 (2014): 211+.
Center for Young Women’s Health. http://youngwomenshealth.org .