Systematic review demonstrating that breakfast consumption influences body weight outcomes in children and adolescents in Europe

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Feb;50(2):113-9. doi: 10.1080/10408390903467514.


Skipping breakfast is common among children and adolescents. However, there is uncertainty regarding whether breakfast consumption contributes to or protects against overweight or obesity. We aimed to review the evidence on the effects of breakfast consumption on body weight outcomes in children and adolescents in Europe. The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, and EMBASE were searched in January 2009. We identified 16 studies. All were cross-sectional or cohort trials involving more than 59,000 children/adolescents from Europe. Thirteen studies (n = 57,481) consistently showed that breakfast has a protective effect against becoming overweight or obese. One trial (n = 886) showed that this effect was significant only for boys. The effect of eating breakfast on the body mass index (BMI) was analyzed in 4 studies (n = 2897). All of these studies showed an increase in BMI in breakfast skippers. In one study (n = 1245), this effect was significant only for boys. The results of this analysis suggest that eating breakfast is associated with a reduced risk of becoming overweight or obese and a reduction in the BMI in children and adolescents in Europe. However, almost all of the data in this review were gathered from observational studies, thus, causality should not be assumed based on these findings.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / prevention & control
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult