11 September 2017: Recent research continues to support the wide-ranging health benefits of a regular breakfast habit and eating breakfast cereal.

Findings from recent studies highlight benefits for body weight, heart health and getting the vitamins and minerals we need.  There is also a new area of research exploring links between cereal fibre and painful knee osteoarthritis.

Key studies from the past year are summarised below:

Breakfast essential for kids’ nutrition

Children and teenagers who skip breakfast may be missing out on key nutrients that are essential for development and growth, according to a new UK study.1

Researchers from King’s College London, examined dietary-data from four-day, food diaries of more than 1600 children aged 4-18 years, that were collected as part of the UK’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey program.

They found 31.5 per cent of children who skipped breakfast were not getting the recommended minimum daily amount of iron (compared to 4.4 per cent of breakfast eaters); 19 per cent did not meet minimum calcium targets (compared to 2.9 per cent of breakfast eaters), and 21.5 per cent did not meet the minimum iodine requirements (compared to 3.3 per cent of breakfast eaters).

The findings, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, also showed on the days younger children (4-10 years) had breakfast, they had significantly higher intakes of folate, vitamin C, calcium and iron compared to the days they skipped breakfast.  Researchers suggest this may be due to higher intakes of fortified breakfast cereals, juice and milk among younger children.

Senior research author Dr Gerda Pot said the study provided evidence that breakfast was key for parents to ensure their children were getting the nutrition they needed.

The findings also supported a recent analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data that showed Australian children who ate breakfast cereal were more likely to meet nutrient targets and had significantly higher intakes of fibre, iron, calcium, folate and magnesium, as well as lower intakes of sodium.2

Eating more fibre may reduce the risk of arthritis

A high fibre diet has been linked to a reduced risk of painful knee osteoarthritis and may also help stop the arthritis pain from worsening, according to a recent study.3

The US study, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Disease journal, analysed data from two large longitudinal studies to examine the association between dietary fibre and knee osteoarthritis and its symptoms.

The findings showed eating more dietary fibre – whether from cereals and grain foods or nuts, fruit and veggies – was associated with a lower risk of painful knee osteoarthritis. In one study, the risk was 30% lower among those eating more fibre (average 22g of fibre a day compared 9g), while the other group showed a 61% reduced risk among people with higher fibre diets (average of 27g of fibre per day compared 9g).

The findings also highlighted that people who had the highest intakes of cereal fibre had a 14% less risk of osteoarthritis knee pain worsening.  In the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey, breakfast cereals provided 22% of total daily fibre intake for adults who ate breakfast cereal.2

Regular breakfast habit linked with better heart health

Planning meals and not skipping breakfast are key traits of healthy diets that may help reduce heart disease risk factors, according to a new scientific statement by the American Heart Association.4

The statement, published in Circulation, was based on an extensive review of the current evidence and looked at the links between various eating patterns and cardiometabolic health markers in adults.

“There is a link between eating breakfast and having lower heart disease risk factors. Studies have found people who eat breakfast daily are less likely to have high cholesterol and blood pressure, and people who skip breakfast — about 20 percent to 30 percent of U.S. adults — are more likely to be obese, have inadequate nutrition, show evidence of impaired glucose metabolism or be diagnosed with diabetes,” said Dr Marie-Pierre St-Onge, writing group chair and Assoc. Prof. of Nutritional Medicine at Columbia University.

The new recommendations from the American Heart Association for clinicians include recommending a planned approach to eating and having a greater share of energy intake earlier in the day, as it might help reduce cardiovascular disease risk.

Breakfast quality matters, especially for men.

A recent study has linked a good quality breakfast with improved measures of heart health and weight, especially among middle-aged men.5

The German research, a sub-study of the renowned EPIC study, found men who ate breakfast cereal more frequently had significantly lower BMIs (11% lower) and women had significantly slimmer waists (16% narrower circumference). For men, eating breakfast cereal as well as dairy products such as milk and yogurt, more often, was also associated with a significantly higher biomarker score (26% higher) compared to three other breakfast patterns studied.

The study, published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, noted the benefits of a quality breakfast were found, regardless of the quality of the rest of the diet.

Childhood obesity linked to breakfast skipping and irregular sleep

Skipping breakfast, irregular sleeping patterns and having a mother who smoked during pregnancy have been identified as key risk factors for childhood obesity, according to a UK study.6

University College of London researchers examined data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, which followed 16, 936 children for eight years. Their findings, published in Pediatrics, showed that skipping breakfast was the number one modifiable risk factor for overweight and number two for obesity (after maternal smoking).

Compared to children with a stable BMI, those who regularly skipped breakfast had a 76 per cent greater chance of being in the group of fastest increasing BMIs and a 66 per cent  greater chance of being in the group with moderately quickly increasing BMIs.

A secondary analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data from the 2011-13 Australian Health Survey (AHS) found 8.6 per cent of Australian children (aged 2-18) skipped breakfast.2


  1. Coulthard JD, Palla L, Pot GK. Breakfast consumption and nutrient intakes in 4–18-year-olds: UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme (2008–2012). Br J Nutr. 2017:1-11. DOI:10.1017/S0007114517001714
  2. Nutrition Research Australia, Breakfast and Breakfast Cereal Consumption Among Australians – A secondary analysis of the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, Sydney, February 2016.
  3. Dai Z, Niu J, Zhang Y, Jacques P, Felsen DT. Dietary intake of fibre and risk of knee osteoarthritis in two US prospective cohorts. Ann Rheum Dis. Published Online First: 23 May 2017. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-210810
  4. St-Onge M-P, Ard J, Baskin ML, et al. Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017. DOI:10.1161/cir.0000000000000476
  5. Iqbal K, Schwingshackl L, Gottschald M, Knuppel S, Stelmach-Mardas M, Aleksandrova K, et al. Breakfast quality and cardiometabolic risk profiles in an upper middle-aged german population. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-210810
  6. Kelly Y, Patalay P, Montgomery S, Sacker A. BMI Development and Early Adolescent Psychosocial Well-Being: UK Millennium Cohort Study. Pediatrics 2016. DOI 10.1542
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