BEHAVIOR
March 28, 2008

The Teen Diet: Breakfast Every Day

It doesn't have to be bacon and eggs, but teens who want to lose weight are better off starting the day with a healthy meal.

The more frequently teens report eating breakfast, the less weight they gain over time, according to a new study appearing in the March issue of Pediatrics.

"It's interesting to note that the kids who eat breakfast on a daily basis overall have a much better diet and are more physically active" than are those who routinely skip breakfast, according to Mark Pereira, co-author of the study.

Over a third of teens are now overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. In the past two decades, the percentage of children who are overweight has doubled; among teens, it has tripled. And 12 to 34 percent of children and adolescents skip breakfast on a regular basis, a number that increases with age.

The link between good breakfast habits and weight control is well established, according to Pereira, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Several previous studies have suggested that skipping breakfast is associated with a greater risk of obesity that carries into adulthood.

In this latest study, more than 2,000 adolescents were followed for five years. Participants completed detailed surveys on their eating patterns and were monitored for height, weight, body-mass index and physical activity. The results were loud and clear: grandma was right; eating breakfast will keep you healthier and thinner.
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