The most important meal of the day: why children skip breakfast and what can be done about it

Pediatr Ann. 2013 Sep;42(9):184-7. doi: 10.3928/00904481-20130823-10.


We all experience that morning rush to get somewhere - to work, to school, or to complete a number of important errands before we reach those final destinations. Many adults skip meals for a variety of reasons. Children and teenagers are no different. Eating behaviors can promote or diminish healthy nutrition. A child consuming breakfast with family members on a regular basis is ideal but not always realistic. More and more children have two working parents who are rushing out to work in the morning, have limited income or a lack of healthy options at home, or possess a lack of education on the benefits of breakfast. Evidence shows that breakfast consumption reduces weight gain by improving satiety and decreasing binge eating later in the day. High-fiber cereals (ie, > 2 g per serving) and whole-grain products improve satiety and decrease binge eating at lunch or after school. The total dietary fiber intake should equal age plus 5 g for young children and up to 14 g/1,000 calories for adolescents. In the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Growth and Health Study, 2,379 white and black females aged 9 to 19 years were followed on an annual basis. The more frequently breakfast was consumed was associated with a higher calcium and fiber intake and, consequently, a lower body mass index. This article focuses on the NHLBI guidelines for cardiovascular risk reduction in children and adolescents, including practical suggestions about breakfast meal planning and food choices. These recommendations offer real-time dietary suggestions and practical advice for patients' families.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breakfast*
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child Welfare
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Parents / psychology