Break the word breakfast into its two parts: break and fast.
Eating breakfast breaks your fast after hours of sleep. In my Splenda Living blog I write about why breakfast is often the first meal of the day. It’s a nutritionally important one. Nutrition experts have touted the benefits of breakfast for years, especially for children of all ages. However, according to William Cochran, MD, a past member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, “Approximately 8 to 12 percent of all school-aged kids skip breakfast. By the time kids enter adolescence, as many as 20 to 30 percent of them have completely given up the morning meal.
Do you struggle to get your children to make time to eat this oh-so-important first meal of the day? Let’s discuss why breakfast is such a vital meal for children and get quick and easy-to-fix healthy breakfast ideas for when neither time nor inclination are in your favor.
Why Healthy Breakfasts Matter
Ah, let’s count the reasons… Children who eat breakfast are more likely to meet their nutrition needs, have healthy bones and a healthy heart. Yet, studies show that over one-third of the food and beverages U.S. children and adolescents consume are high in calories and poor in nutritional value. Skipping breakfast can be one reason for this.
A healthy breakfast presents an opportunity to eat a serving or two of those hard-to-fit-in foods most American children and adolescents don’t consumer enough of. Count among them fiber-filled whole grains, fruit and low-fat dairy foods, which all can be hard to find and fit in once your child leaves the house.
Eating breakfast regularly is also associated with improved learning and academic performance at school. We all want our children to succeed academically!
Last but not least, the routine of eating breakfast is associated with helping children maintain a healthy weight over the years whereas skipping breakfast is correlated with an increased risk of being overweight. Current statistics show that today roughly one-third of children are overweight or obese. This number has slowly been creeping up over the last few decades.
Do you need any more reasons to help your children kick-start their days with a healthy breakfast?
Breakfast at School
Children don’t necessarily need to leave home having eaten breakfast. Today, many public schools, non-profit private schools and residential child care facilities offer the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsored School Breakfast Program. Statistics show that just over half of the nation’s school children are eligible for free or reduced price meals and can participate in the School Breakfast Program. Like the School Lunch Program, also sponsored by USDA, the breakfast program must meet the meal pattern and nutrition standards based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which assures healthy meals are served.