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The many benefits of breakfast

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Your mother was right: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Not only does it give you energy to start a new day, but breakfast is linked to many health benefits, including weight control and improved performance.

Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast can help give you:

Breakfast and children

Eating breakfast is important for everyone, but is especially so for children and adolescents. Children who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom and on the playground, with better concentration, problem-solving skills and hand- eye coordination.

While adults need to eat breakfast each day to perform at their best, kids need it even more. Their growing bodies and developing brains rely heavily on a regular intake of food. When children skip breakfast, they can end up going for as long as 18 hours without food, and this period of semi-starvation can create a lot of physical, intellectual and behavioural problems for them.

Breakfast and brainpower

If you and your children regularly skip breakfast in the interest of saving time or getting a few more minutes of sleep, remember that eating a wholesome, nutritious morning meal will probably save you time in the long run. By recharging your brain and your body, you will be more efficient in just about everything you do. Interestingly, studies show that kids who skip breakfast are late for and absent from school more often than children who eat breakfast on a regular basis.

Preparing a good breakfast can be as quick and easy as splashing some milk over cereal. Time invested in breakfast is much more valuable than the few extra minutes of sleep you might get by bypassing the morning meal. If you and your kids seem unable to make time for breakfast at home, consider enrolling your children in a school breakfast programme, if possible, or prepare a breakfast the night before that you and your kids can eat on the way to school and work.

Breakfast benefit: Weight control

Many studies, in both adults and children, have shown that breakfast eaters tend to weigh less than breakfast skippers.

Why? One theory suggests that eating a healthy breakfast can reduce hunger throughout the day and help people make better food choices at other meals. While it might seem you could save calories by missing breakfast, this is not an effective strategy. Typically, hunger gets the best of breakfast skippers, and they eat more at lunch and throughout the day.

Another theory behind the breakfast- weight control link implies that eating breakfast is part of a healthy lifestyle that includes making wise food choices and balancing calories with exercise. It's worth noting that most studies linking breakfast to weight control loss looked at a healthy breakfast containing protein and/or whole grains, not meals loaded with fat and calories.

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