Breakfast habits of different groups of Spanish schoolchildren
A questionnaire was used to investigate the schoolday and holiday breakfast habits of a group of 742 pupils (420 boys and 322 girls) aged between 9 and 13 years. The subjects attended four different schools in Madrid with populations of medium and medium–high socioeconomic level. Most pupils (53%) ate dairy products and cereals for breakfast and 10% also ate fruit: breakfasts that could be considered adequate or satisfactory. However, it was also observed that 17% of boys and 33% of girls took only dairy products at breakfast. In most cases (98%) this was limited to a glass of milk, an intake insufficient to start the day. Three per cent of boys and 5% of girls took no breakfast at all. Boys in general and the younger children of the sample spent more time at breakfast than girls or older children. They also included a wider variety of foods in their breakfasts. Most of the schoolchildren had breakfast at home (95%), either alone (42%) or with their brothers and sisters (43%). Only 25% had breakfast with their parents. Breakfast made a contribution of 15.6±0.4% to the recommended daily intake of energy. In 88% of cases, the contribution of breakfast was lower than 25% of total calories, the advisable level for this meal. During holidays the percentage of children who took no breakfast decreased to 2% of boys and 1% of girls. However, the differences observed between holidays and working days were not great. Perhaps the most important difference lies in the time spent eating breakfast, 10.8±0.3 minutes on schooldays and 20±0.6 minutes during holidays (P<0.001). The modification of dietary habits to increase the quantity and variety of foods consumed before starting daily activity probably has a positive impact on physical and intellectual performance. It would also help in the attainment of better nutritional status and better health.
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