Most Americans think breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but because of hectic schedules more than half the nation does not eat what is referred to by nutritionists as "the most important meal of the day," according to a new study released this week by Kellogg.
Only 34 percent of those interviewed for the study actually make time to get their morning sustenance from breakfast because they are crunched for time.
Nearly all moms (89 percent) want their children to eat breakfast every day. However, 40 percent of moms report their child doesn't eat breakfast, the report said.
Eating breakfast improves concentration, problem-solving ability, mental performance, memory and mood, according to LSU Agricultural Center nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
"With breakfast, students think faster and clearer and have better recall," Reames said, adding, "Breakfast eaters also score higher on tests and have better concentration and muscle coordination."
Most studies show that children who eat breakfast are more alert and perform better on school tests than children who do not eat breakfast. They are also more creative and energetic.
Nutritionists say hunger, even short-term hunger, decreases attention span and ability to concentrate. Hungry children just can't do their best work. They're easily distracted, and become fidgety, irritable and tired. Also, children who eat breakfast are less likely to miss class, be tardy or report they are sick than children who miss the morning meal.
"Teachers shouldn’t forget breakfast either," the nutritionist said, noting that breakfast provides both kids and grownups with the energy and nutrients needed to start the day.
"It's especially important for parents to eat a good breakfast every day, since parents are role models for their children," Reames said. Children who see their parents eat breakfast are more likely to eat breakfast, too.
While nearly all toddlers and preschoolers are eating breakfast, consumption of breakfast falls as American children grow older. The study shows that 77 percent of young children eat breakfast every day, but that number dips to 50 percent in the middle-school years and 36 percent among high school students.
Moms report a desire to see their children relax in the morning and concentrate on eating breakfast. However, many kids are too busy watching television, getting their homework done or getting ready for school to do so, according to Kellogg.
"We've all heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day," said Dr. Laura Jana, pediatrician and award-winning author of Heading Home with Your Newborn and Food Fights.
"And that's for good reason. After sleeping, we need to refuel our brains and bodies for the day. Without a healthy breakfast, we simply are not as likely to function at our best," she said.
Some people believe that skipping breakfast may help them lose weight. Skipping meals, however, often leads to overeating later in the day. Becoming over-hungry often leads to a lack of control and the inability to determine when you’re full. This can result in taking in more calories than if you had an appropriate breakfast, said the LSU report.
If there's no time in the morning to eat breakfast, there are plenty of items you can bring along with you to school or work. For example, carry a resealable bag of easy-to-eat whole-grain cereal, or bring yogurt or a small box of skim milk, juice or fruit.
Even if you just tolerate food in the morning, try to have a little something, such as some juice, and bring along a mid-morning snack. Other good portable items include whole-grain crackers, hard-cooked eggs, cottage cheese, low-fat granola bars or even a peanut butter sandwich.
Single-serving hot cereals, such as oatmeal, also are handy, because all you have to do is add hot water, which is available at most cafeterias or at the office.