Teaching parents about breakfast boosts children’s nutrition, health

Teaching parents about breakfast boosts children’s nutrition, health

It’s been said breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many rush out of the house without grabbing a bite to eat.

In order to change that behavior and make breakfast a part of a family’s daily routine, researchers suggest teaching parents about its nutritional value. Eating a nutritious breakfast has been found to enhance memory, improve cognitive ability and increase attention span.

“It’s important for children to develop a habit of eating breakfast while they are young, so they can carry over this healthy habit into adulthood,” says Katherine Adell, outpatient registered dietitian at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggested both online and in-person group education can be used as effective tools in helping parents improve their knowledge of eating a healthy breakfast each morning.

The University of California study included 590 women in the federal Women, Infants and Children program that provides food, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income women and their young children. During the study, the women received either online or in-person group nutrition education on ways to reduce breakfast skipping in addition to identifying healthy food options. The participants also completed questionnaires assessing their breakfast-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors before and after their education in addition to follow-ups two and four months later.

“The goals of the breakfast class was to teach participants why it’s important for adults and children to eat breakfast every day and why skipping breakfast can lead to poorer health for children and adults,” Lorrene Ritchie of the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California said in a news release.

Researchers discovered that both the in-person group and online group experienced similar improvements to their breakfast nutrition knowledge. Participants in both groups reported reductions in barriers to eating breakfast due to time constraints, not having enough food at home and difficulty with food preparation. Those in the online group reported an increase in frequency of eating breakfast for both the parent and the child compared to the in-person group.

As a registered dietitian, Adell suggests the first meal of the day include a nutrient-rich carbohydrate such as a whole grain, fruit and/or vegetable, and some lean dairy. Below are some quick and easy breakfast options:

  • Frozen whole grain waffle, toasted and topped with low-fat cottage cheese and fresh blueberries
  • Smoothie prepared with skim milk, frozen berries, protein powder and ice
  • High-fiber cereal with bananas and skim milk
  • Old-fashioned oats with fresh fruit, sliced almonds and a glass of milk
  • Scrambled eggs with peppers and tomatoes, whole grain toast with 100-percent fruit jam and a glass of milk

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About the Author

Johnna Kelly
Johnna Kelly

Johnna Kelly, healthe news contributor, is a manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She is a former newspaper reporter and spent nearly 10 years as a public relations professional working for state and county government. During her time as a communications staffer for the Illinois General Assembly, she was integral in drafting and passing legislation creating Andrea's Law, the nation's first murderer registry. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local homeless shelter, enjoys traveling, photography and watching the Chicago Bulls.