27 January 2015: As many as one in seven Australian school children admit to heading to school without breakfast, according to ABS data, released today.1
The CensusAtSchool survey (ABS) was based on voluntary responses from more than 16,100 Australian school children. The results revealed 15.2 per cent of respondents did not eat breakfast on the day they completed the survey, missing essential nutrients linked to improved academic performance. 1,2,3
Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and Director of the Australian Breakfast Cereals Manufacturers Forum Ms Leigh Reeve said the worrying trend is increasing.
“Since the survey began six years ago, we’ve seen the number of school children skipping breakfast steadily climb, up from 10.8 per cent in 2008,” said Ms Reeve.
“It means more children are starting the day on the back foot. Research links eating breakfast with improved cognitive performance particularly in relation to memory and test results.”
Responses from students in South Australia, Northern Territory, and Queensland showed they are more likely to skip breakfast. With as many as one in five South Australian school children not eating breakfast.
Among breakfast foods, breakfast cereal remained the most popular choice with more than a third (35.7 per cent) eating breakfast cereal on the day they took the survey, followed by bread or bread products (26.3 per cent) and milk or milk products (12.4 per cent).
“Breakfast cereal is popular because it’s a tasty option that’s quick and easy to manage as part of the morning rush. Importantly it also provides essential nutrients in particular B group vitamins, iron and fibre, and accounts for almost a third of daily milk intakes for Australian children,” said Ms Reeve. 6,7,8
“Children who eat breakfast cereal are likely to have better nutrition, a lower BMI and are at a lower risk of being overweight or obese.” 4,5,8
Dietitian Leigh Reeve’s tips for encouraging children to eat breakfast:
• Limit after dinner snacks. If your calls for breakfast are met by “I’m not hungry”, try limiting snacks after dinner.
• Leave it to the kids. Breakfast cereal is one of the first meals kids can make for themselves, so encourage them to get their own brekkie. You can even set out bowls and cereal the night before so all they need to do is grab the milk.
• Lead by example. Resist the urge to just grab a coffee and take five minutes for a bowl of breakfast cereal or a piece of toast.
• Be ready to run. Dietitians will always recommend sitting down to eat breakfast, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Brekkie on-the-run is much better than none at all, so for chaotic mornings try a travel friendly option like a liquid breakfast drink, a sandwich or even a piece of fruit.
The ABS CensusAtSchool survey asks non-invasive questions about primary and secondary school students’ everyday lives, experiences, opinions and interests. The latest survey ran from February to August 2014. During that period 16,112 students from around Australia completed the survey. ABCMF commissioned the ABS to compile the results from the 2014 survey for Q18. breakfast food in line with previous ABS data. For more information visit http://www.abs.gov.au/censusatschool
About The Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum (ABCMF): The ABCMF, provides evidence-based, practical information so Australians can have a better understanding of the true value of eating breakfast cereals and breakfast as part of a healthy lifestyle.
- ABS 2014, Customised report. http://www.abs.gov.au/censusatschool
- O’Dea JA, Mugridge AC. Nutritional quality of breakfast and physical activity independently predict the literacy and numeracy scores of children after adjusting for socioeconomic status. Health Educ Res 2012;27:6:975-985. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22798563
- Rampersaud GC, Pereira M, Girard B, Adams J, Metzel J. Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight and academic performance in children and adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc 2005;105:743-60.
- Albertson AM, Anderson GH, Crockett SJ, Goebel MT. Ready-to-eat cereal consumption: its relationship with BMI and nutrient intake of children aged 4 to 12 years. J Am Diet Assoc 2003;103:1613–1619. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14647087
- O’Neil CE, Zanovec M, Nicklas TA and Cho SS. Presweetened and Nonpresweetened Ready-to-Eat Cereals at Breakfast Are Associated With Improved Nutrient Intake but Not With Increased Body Weight of Children and Adolescents: NHANES 1999–2002. Am J Lifestyle Med 2012; 6:1:63–74. http://ajl.sagepub.com/content/6/1/63.refs
- Additional Analyses of the 2007 National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra, 2012.
- Fayet F, Ridges L, Sritharan N and Petocz, P. Breakfast cereal consumption is associated with higher micronutrient and milk intake among Australian Children. Australasian Medical Journal 2011; 4:12:775.
- Williams PG. The Benefits of Breakfast Cereal Consumption: A Systematic Review of the Evidence Base. Adv Nutr 2014; 5:636S-673S. http://advances.nutrition.org/content/5/5/636S.full.pdf+html