Family Breakfast Benefits
A new study finds eating a healthy breakfast -- together at home -- goes a long way to help your children's psychosocial health.
We already know that eating a healthy breakfast is important to help children's cognitive scores at school. This study found eating a healthy breakfast was just as important for children's behaviors.
In the study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers found that missing breakfast or eating breakfast away from home was linked to higher odds of psychosocial behavioral problems.
"Our results suggest that it is not only important to eat breakfast, but it's also important where young people eat breakfast and what they eat," said Jose Francisco Lopez-Gil, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Cuenca, Spain, in a press release. "Skipping breakfast or eating breakfast away from home is associated with increased likelihood of psychosocial behavioral problems in children and adolescents."
Using data from the Spanish National Health Survey, Lopez-Gil and colleagues analyzed the eating habits of 3,773 children aged 4 to 14 years. To gather information on psychosocial behavior, parents of the children who participated in the study completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, reporting details about the child's anxiety, self-esteem, mood and more.
This study of Spanish families may have been unusual as nearly every participant ate breakfast at home -- 98.9% ate breakfast overall and 95.8% ate it at home -- and most had what researchers deemed normal psychosocial behavior (87%). That number of breakfasts eaten at home might be much lower in America since many elementary and middle-school students eat breakfast at school.
The most reported breakfast meals in the study were cereals, toast, pastries and bread.
The researchers found that children who skipped breakfast regularly faced much higher odds of having psychosocial behavioral problems -- at least three times more than those of children who ate breakfast regularly. Children who ate breakfast away from their homes were much more likely to have behavioral problems.
Because those who ate at home were more likely to do so with family members, the researchers wrote that social and family needs may factor into the results.
"Family meals are a family time that provides an opportunity for families to connect despite the ongoing intense demands of modern life," they noted.