Teens lead busy lives, and between school, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities and an active social life, they often don't take time to sit down for a morning meal. According to the Healthy Children website, by the time kids hit adolescence, about 30 percent of them no longer eat breakfast. But skimping on her early morning fuel-up session can take a toll on a teenager's health.
The morning meal is important for providing energy for everyday activities. Teens who don't eat in the morning can find their energy flagging in the long stretch before lunch. Teens who have breakfast in the morning before school also have better concentration during class, so it can even improve school performance. One 2003 study from the Northern Ireland Centre for Diet and Health at the University of Ulster found that teens who ate breakfast did better on attention and memory tasks and girls who had a breakfast featuring both carbohydrates and protein did even better.
Breakfast provides the perfect opportunity for teens to get nutrients they might otherwise miss. Many breakfast foods are healthy sources of fiber, including oatmeal, whole grain toast and cereals. Orange juice provides vitamin C, while milk or yogurt gives teens a dose of calcium and vitamin D. A 2002 study in the "Journal of Adolescent Health" found that teens who didn't eat breakfast were more likely to be iron-deficient than teens who do.
Many teens, especially teen girls, skip breakfast as a strategy to lose weight. This particular method might actually backfire, however. A 2008 study in the journal "Pediatrics" found that teens who ate breakfast every day had a lower body mass index, or BMI, and gained less weight over the five-year study than those who skipped their morning meal. The breakfast-eaters also tended to have a lower total intake of saturated fat and a better diet overall.
Even teens convinced of the merits of a healthy breakfast can still be reluctant to take the time for a full sit-down meal. Fortunately, there are plenty of on-the-go breakfast options for teens that give the same benefits without the time sink. A bowl of healthy breakfast cereal with milk provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals. For teens who don't even have time for cereal, a healthy breakfast bar, a piece of fruit or a bag of trail mix prepared the night before can provide valuable calories and nutrients to fuel the day's activities.
- Baylor College of Medicine; Breakfast-Skipping Teens More Likely to Suffer Iron Shortfall; Lori Williams
- Healthy Children: The Case for Eating Breakfast; Winnie Yu; 2009
- "Pediatrics"; Breakfast Eating and Weight Change in a 5-Year Prospective Analysis of Adolescents: Project EAT (Eating Among Teens); M.T. Timlin, et al.; March 2008
- "Journal of Adolescent Health"; Breakfast Consumption With and Without Vitamin-Mineral Supplement Use Favorably Impacts Daily Nutrient Intake of Ninth-Grade Students; T. Nicklas et al.; November 2000.
- Nutra Ingredients: Breakfast May Be Key to Classroom Performance; October 2003