SKIPPING BREAKFAST ON THE RISE AMONG AUSSIE CHILDREN

New research shows one in seven Australian school children are skipping breakfast1, a meal linked to improved school performance and lower BMIs in children.2,3,4

The CensusAtSchool survey findings, released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, are based on voluntary responses from more than 23,700 Australian school children.

The survey reveals breakfast skipping is a bigger issue in ACT, SA, WA, Tas, Qld and the NT, all with reporting rates above the national average. The NT tops the list with 22.3% of school children skipping breakfast on the day they took the survey.

Director of the Australian Breakfast Cereals Manufacturers Forum and Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) Leigh Reeve said the results were worrying.

“This is the fourth year in a row breakfast skipping among school children has increased. It’s now up to 14.8% of children skipping breakfast compared to 10.8% five years ago. It’s a concerning trend,” said Ms Reeve.

“As children head towards the busy fourth term and exam time, it becomes more crucial for them to eat a healthy breakfast.

“There’s more than 50 years of scientific evidence supporting the role of breakfast and better brain function in children, with the latest science linking breakfast with improved numeracy and literacy skills.

“Children who regularly eat breakfast cereal are also more likely to have a better diet overall, a healthier weight, and consume more essential nutrients. In the long term, this important dietary habit may also reduce their risk of many lifestyle related diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.”

The CensusAtSchool survey asks students what they had for breakfast. The 2013 findings show:

Response: Did Not Eat Breakfast

ACT NSW NT QLD SA TAS VIC WA National Average
20.1% 14.1% 22.3% 15.9% 15.7% 18.5% 12.3% 15.2% 14.8%

For children who reported eating breakfast, breakfast cereal remained the most popular choice with more than a third (37.4%) eating breakfast cereal on the day of the survey, followed by bread or bread products (26.7%).

For a full copy of the CensusAtSchool report visit http://www.abs.gov.au/censusatschool

Five Tips To Tackle Kids Skipping Breakfast By Leigh Reeve APD and Director ABCMF

  • Lack of time is one of the most common excuses for skipping breakfast, so make the most of the slower pace of the school holidays to establish regular breakfast habits.
  • Always lead by example. Resist the urge to just grab a coffee and take five minutes for a bowl of breakfast cereal, toast or some fruit.
  • Set out cereal bowls and breakfast cereal the night before to make it easy for older children to help themselves in the morning.
  • If your calls for breakfast are regularly met by the response “I’m not hungry”, try limiting snacks after dinner.
  • For children that are on-the-go, add some high fibre and wholegrain breakfast cereal to a fruit smoothie mix that ticks all the nutrition boxes or have a liquid breakfast product handy.

ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN BREAKFAST CEREAL MANUFACTURERS FORUM (ABCMF)

The ABCMF, established in 2011 as a forum of the Australian Food and Grocery Council, 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.

For more information: Please contact Bite Communications 02 9977 8195, Sonya Rogers on (m) 0435 110 670.

 REFERENCES

  1. 2013 CensusAtSchool http://www.abs.gov.au/censusatschool
  2. 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 Education Research 2012; 27 (6): 975-985 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737458/
  3. Albertson AM, Anderson GH, Crockett SJ, Goebel MT. (2003) Ready-to-eat cereal consumption: its relationship with BMI and nutrient intake of children aged 4 to 12 years. J Am Diet Assoc. 103:1613–1619. http://www.journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/yjada/article/S0002-8223(03)01363-4/abstract?refuid=S0002-8223(09)00763-9&refissn=0002-8223
  4. O’Neil, CE, M. Zanovec, TA Nicklas and SS Cho (2012) 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. 6(1):63–74. http://ajl.sagepub.com/content/6/1/63.refs
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