Breakfast could be the most important meal of the day, according to a briefing paper published this month by Jo Kirby and Candace Currie of Edinburgh University's Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit.
They say skipping breakfast is linked to increased consumption of snacks and larger meal portions for the rest of the day, as well as greater risk of being overweight. By contrast, eating breakfast every day is associated with having a healthy weight, due most likely to a more even distribution of energy intake across meals throughout the day.
There is also evidence to suggest that breakfast consumption may improve cognitive function related to memory, test grades and school attendance. It also has a short-term effect in improving selected learning skills, especially work memory.
As part of their research for the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study, the researchers found that:
- boys are more likely than girls to eat breakfast every day on school days. Boys and girls who eat breakfast every day on school days are more likely to rate their school performance as "good or very good", and their health as "excellent or good";
- pupils who skip breakfast every day on school days are more likely to consume sugary drinks and snack-type foods (for example, sweets, crisps) once a day or more.