It is commonly held that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but until recently the prevailing argument was simply that breakfast eaters started the day with sounder cognitive function and set themselves up for overall better performance and achievement as the day progressed.
However, a recent study out of Kings College London in the UK suggests that children who skip breakfast on a regular basis are likely missing out on all recommended essential nutrients throughout the day.
In general studies conducted over many years, skipping breakfast has been proven to increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, reduced memory function, and weight gain. However, only recently have studies of nutrition shown the effects of missing out on micronutrients such as vitamins C, D, E, B-complex and K, folic acid and beta-carotene, and the correlation of obtaining these nutrients beginning with a meal at breakfast.
Iron and Calcium Deficiencies May Be Linked to Skipping Breakfast
Detailed statistics of participants in the Kings College study show that more than 30% of children who skip breakfast are low on iron, and more than 20% of the children are deficient in calcium. Comparatively, only 3% of children who eat breakfast regularly were low in iron and or calcium. Not surprisingly, fat intake throughout the day was higher when children did not eat breakfast.
Researchers determined that older children, those aged 11 to 18 years, were more likely than their younger peers (ages 4 -10 years) to skip breakfast. And girls were more likely than boys to begin their day without a meal. But the missing micronutrients in the younger breakfast skippers was greater than in the older group, indicating that the younger you are, the more important it is to eat breakfast so that your body can derive and process nutrition throughout the day.
Even children in the study who ate a nutritionally balanced diet despite not eating breakfast were still found, when tested, to be lacking in essential nutrients, further indicating that breakfast may be key to establishing efficient and balanced dietary intake. The study also indicated that children who did not eat breakfast ended up consuming the same number or fewer total calories as children who ate breakfast every day.