Most important meal of the day: Making sure your teen eats breakfast

Knoxville (WVLT) -- Lower grades and test scores, more tardiness and absenteeism.

A new study finds allowing your children to skip breakfast not only sets them up for failure in the classroom, but also on the scale.

Researchers say the more often children eat breakfast, the less likely they are to be overweight.

In this week's Healthy Tennessean, more evidence that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

Fifty-nine percent of high school students skip breakfast at least three times a week, and one in three girls skip breakfast daily.

Whether it's due to lack of time or hunger or dieting to lose weight, the study, which appears in this month's issue of the Journal Pediatrics, finds a direct relationtionship between eating breakfast and body mass index.

UT Medical Center Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Janet Seiber says, "If your kids don't have enough time to eat breakfast at home, breakfast anywhere is a good idea. It might be in the car on the way to school or at school, as long as it's something before your day gets going."

Seiber says the more often a child eats breakfast, the lower his or her b-m-i is likely to be.

Children who eat breakfast are less likely to consume refined foods and more that contain fiber.

Eating fiber rich foods may improve glucose and insulin levels, making children feel satisfied and less likely to eat more later in the day, which has an impact on energy and activity levels.

Seiber says, "When you start skipping meals and skipping breakfast, if you've gone from, you know seven o'clock the night before to one o'clock the next day without eating, that's almost 24 hours have gone by, so that can slow your metabolism."

Skipping any meal, especially breakfast, can send a child's body into starvation mode, which means they will conserve, rather than burn, the calories they do eat.

And later in the day, that's more likely to be snacks, high in fat.

It's a lose-lose situation for the most overfed, undernourished children in the world.

Other recent studies find even healthy, well-nourished children who skip breakfast or lunch are less able to distinguish between similar images, have slower memory recall and commit more errors.

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