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Why is Breakfast important? | The food and nutrition forum
Why is breakfast important?

Why is Breakfast important?

January 28, 2015 0 2305 Diet & Health

Why is Breakfast important?

By Thiyagarajan Sivapriya, M.Sc, M. Phil

According to an old phrase, breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, although it is the meal which is most often missed and the most underestimated. This saying has recently acquired scientific support. The reported health benefits from regular breakfast consumption include a better nutritional profile , reduced body mass index, better cognitive functions, reduced incidence of chronic degenerating diseases including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a healthier lifestyle, healthier food choices, and regular eating and exercise patterns [1]

Nutrition plays an important role in health and successful education of school children. Malnutrition is accompanied with Carelessness and reducing thoughts and educational progress among school children [2]. Breakfast is considered to be an important daily food meal because after overnight fasting and the hunger due to that, the body requires nutritional elements, so omitting breakfast can cause deficiency of nutrient substances which is required by the brain, with subsequent reduction, in mental function [3].

Overweight and obesity in youths have increased during the past decades and are associated with different physical and psychosocial health problems [4]. Overweight is caused by a long-term positive energy balance occurring when the energy intake outweighs the energy expenditure [5]. The aetiology of obesity in adolescents is complex although notable among them is breakfast skipping.

Intake of whole cereals, dairy products, fruits and vegetables among breakfast consumers is many times higher than breakfast skippers. Prevalence of dietary inadequacy for Ca, Mg, Fe and vitamin D are common among breakfast non-consumers. Thus breakfast consumers have a better quality of food selection than non-consumers, who consume mostly fried items to fulfil their hunger.

Eating breakfast regularly is also an important contributor to a healthy lifestyle and health status. Several studies have revealed that smoking, frequent alcohol used, and infrequent exercise were significantly associated with adolescent breakfast skipping [6]

Children who skipped breakfast had higher level of risk markers for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. They had lower total energy intake but more energy dense diets with high fat content, lower fibre and micronutrient intake. Skipping breakfast has been reported to be an index of erratic dietary patterns during the day which consequently can adversely affect fasting insulin levels and cardio metabolic risk factors [7].

Adolescents who consumed breakfast regularly were more likely to be physically active compared with their skipper counterparts. A higher physical activity level has been associated with higher physical fitness, which is a health marker in children and adolescents [8].


Since eating habits developed in youth are likely to continue into adulthood, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling for early and continued interventions, and one of the simplest and most cost effective ways of improving health and well-being starts with breakfast. Efforts to encourage and maintain breakfast consumption in children and adolescents are warranted. WHO is requesting on world leaders to put breakfast at the heart of public health promotion campaigns and encourage adolescents to ‘Make Time for Breakfast’, as a significant but achievable step towards achieving healthier lifestyles.


  1. Affenito SG. Breakfast: a missed opportunity.J Am Diet Assoc. 2007; 107:565–69.
  2. Pollitte E, Cueto S, Jacoby E. Breakfast and memory function in children. Department of Pediatrics and Program of International Nutrition. University of California, USA, 1995.
  3. Pollitt E. Does breakfast make a difference in school? J Am Diet Assoc 1995; 95: 1134-9.
  4. Lobstein T, Bauer L, Uauy R (2004) Obesity in children and young people: A crisis in public health. Obes Rev 5: S1–S104.
  5. Hill OJ, Wyatt HR, Melanson EL (2000) Genetic and environmental contributions to obesity. Med Clin North Am 84: 33–346.
  6. Keski-Rahkonen A, Kaprio J, Rissanen A, Virkkunen M, Rose RJ. Breakfast skipping and health-compromising behaviors in adolescents and adults.Eur J Clin Nut. 2003;57:842–853.
  7. Farshchi HR, Taylor MA & Macdonald IA (2005) Deleterious effects of omitting breakfast on insulin sensitivity and fasting lipid profiles in healthy lean women. Am J Clin Nutr 81, 388–396.
  8. Sandercock GR, Voss C & Dye L (2010) Associations between habitual school-day breakfast consumption, body mass index, physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness in English schoolchildren. Eur J Clin Nutr 64, 1086–1092.

Sivapriya Thiyagarajan

Sivapriya Thiyagarajan is post-graduate in Food Service Management & Dietetics. She currently pursues her Ph.D. in the branch of Neutraceuticals. She has several years of experience including teaching, research, diet counselling and consultancy works. She regularly writes on topics covering diet and health at her blog PriyasDietCorner.com

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