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Eating breakfast at school lowers risk of overweight in children

Posted:  Thursday, March 31, 2016

Having breakfast at school is better than none

Children eating breakfast at school are less likely to be overweight! Eating breakfast every day helps the children in maintaining a healthy body weight. According to a new study, children eating breakfast at school, even if they have consumed one at home, are less likely to become overweight or obese.

The study, published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, looked at the impact on children consuming healthy breakfast at schools. This study was conducted by the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) at the Yale School of Public Health and the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

Jeannette Ickovics, the senior author and a professor at the Yale School of Public Health conducted this study to investigate whether a second breakfast at school following a breakfast at home could exacerbate the risk of unhealthy weight gain.

The investigators followed the breakfast-eating locations and patterns of 584 middle school students from 12 schools in an urban school district. The fifth-grade students were provided with free breakfast and lunch at schools. The changes in their body weights were observed for two years till the seventh grade.

The study findings indicated that the weight fluctuations in children eating two breakfasts in a day were no different than those in all other students. However, students skipping or eating breakfast inconsistently were more than twice at risk of developing overweight or obesity compared to those who had double breakfasts.

Professor Ickovics explained, "Providing a healthy breakfast to students at school helps alleviate food insecurity and is associated with students maintaining a healthy weight." The study debunks the theory that double breakfasts contribute to unhealthy weight gain. Marlene Schwartz, a study author and director of the Rudd Center, said, “When it comes to the relationship between school breakfast and body weight, our study suggests that two breakfasts are better than none.”

Childhood obesity is an emerging public health problem. In the USA alone, approximately one-third of children aged 6 to 11 are overweight or obese, with black and Hispanic children being at a greater risk than white children. This study may provide valuable evidence for policy makers seeking a solution to tackle the childhood obesity problem.

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