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Body mass, frequency of eating and breakfast consumption in 9–13‐year‐olds

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Background:  Unhealthy eating patterns in childhood can lead to adverse health conditions, particularly obesity. However, debate remains around the precise eating behaviours that lead to these conditions. The present study aimed to address this lack of evidence by reporting on the eating frequency, breakfast consumption and body mass index (BMI, kg m–2) of youth in the UK.

Methods:  A total of 264 (133 boys and 131 girls) participants, aged 10–13 years, completed self‐report measures of dietary intake via 3‐day food/drink diaries (Friday to Sunday). Trained researchers recorded height and weight to calculate the BMI. Diaries were analysed using dietplan 6 nutritional analysis software (Forestfield Software, Horsham, UK) and multivariate linear regression was used to examine any association between breakfast consumption, frequency of eating and BMI.

Results:  No relationship existed between BMI Z‐score, eating frequency and breakfast consumption. However, frequent breakfast consumers had significantly lower mean (SD) BMI Z‐scores [0.18 (1.06) versus 0.57 (1.23)] and higher intakes of iron, calcium and vitamin E than those who did not eat breakfast regularly. Those aged ≥11 years consumed breakfast less frequently [0.92 (0.20)] and were less likely to eat regularly [4.6 (1.4)] than those aged ≤10 years.

Conclusions:  Older boys were the least likely to eat regularly and the least likely to consume breakfast. Promoting the importance of regular eating, particularly breakfast consumption to these boys, may be essential to ensure healthier, long‐term eating patterns. Furthermore, the lower breakfast intakes in 11–13‐year‐olds and higher BMI Z‐scores of those who did not eat breakfast regularly should be monitored.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Recreation & Leisure, Cork Institute of Technology, Bishopstown, Cork, Ireland 2: Life Sciences, Roehampton University, Roehampton, London, UK

Publication date: February 1, 2012


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