Children who skip breakfast may not be getting recommended nutrients
A study by researchers led by Dr Gerda Pot at King’s College London has suggested that children who skip breakfast regularly may not be consuming the daily amounts of key nutrients for growth and development that are recommended by the UK government. A study by researchers led by Dr Gerda Pot at King’s College London has suggested that children who skip breakfast regularly may not be consuming the daily amounts of key nutrients for growth and development that are recommended by the UK government.
Children who ate breakfast every day were deemed to have overall superior nutritional profiles compared to those who didn’t. While the study was unable to identify a causal link, these children were found to have higher daily intakes of key nutrients such as folate (important for the development of genetic material), calcium, iron and iodine (key in the development of thyroid function) than children who skipped breakfast.
The team of researchers used food diaries collected for the National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling programme between 2008 and 2012 from a group of 802 children aged 4 – 10 years and 884 children aged 11 – 18 years. Nutrient intake was assessed using a food composition databank from the Department of Health. Breakfast was considered as consumption of over 100 calories between 6 and 9am.
Key findings include:
• 31.5 per cent of those who skipped breakfast did not meet even the lower recommended nutrient intake(LRNI) of iron compared to only 4.4 per cent of breakfast consuming children
• 19 per cent did not meet LRNI for calcium, compared to 2.9 per cent of breakfast consuming children
• 21.5 per cent did not meet lower levels foriodine, compared to 3.3 per cent of breakfast consuming children
• No children who consumed breakfast daily had a folate intake below their LRNI compared to 7.3 per cent of those who skipped breakfast
The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, also compared breakfast habits and nutrients within individual participants. This analysis showed that, in younger children (4-10 years old), on days when breakfast was consumed, children had higher intakes of folate, calcium, vitamin C and iodine compared to their breakfast-skipping days. Out of these same nutrients,for older children (11-18 years old)only calcium intakes were higheron breakfast-consuming days.
Authors have attributed these findings to higher levels of parental control over eating habits at a young age. There is also the possibility of mis-reporting in food diaries, particularly in older children who reported their own intakes. Some analyses were repeated to omit implausible levels of energy intake where possible.
Dr Gerda Pot, senior author of the study and Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London said: ‘This study provides evidence that breakfast is key for parents to ensure that their children are getting the nutrition they need.
Further studies that investigate specific foods and dietary quality would help to identify if the differences are due to the different types of breakfast being eaten by different age groups, as well as provide more insight into the impact of breakfast on dietary quality overall.’
The study also showed that only 6.5 per cent of 4 – 10 year olds missed breakfast every day, compared with nearly 27 per cent of 11- 18 year olds. Data also suggested that girls were more likely to miss breakfast than boys and household income was found to be higher in the families of children eating breakfast every day.
For further information please contact Hannah Pluthero, Press Officer at King’s College London on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 848 3202
Notes to editors:
‘Breakfast consumption and nutrient intakes in 4-18 year olds – UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme (2008-2012)’ by Coulthard et al is published in the British Journal of Nutrition on 17 August 2017. It is freely available until August 30.
About King’s College London
King’s College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2016/17 QS World University Rankings) and among the oldest in England. King’s has more than 29,600 students (of whom nearly 11,700 are graduate students) from some 150 countries worldwide, and some 8,000 staff.
King’s has an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), eighty-four per cent of research at King’s was deemed ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (3* and 4*).
Since our foundation, King’s students and staff have dedicated themselves in the service of society. King’s will continue to focus on world-leading education, research and service, and will have an increasingly proactive role to play in a more interconnected, complex world. Visit our website to find out more about Vision 2029, King’s strategic vision for the next 12 years to 2029, which will be the 200th anniversary of the founding of the university. For further information about King’s, please visit the King’s in Brief web pages.