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Skipping Breakfast, Eating Out Of Home Linked To Psychosocial Behavioural Problems In Children

Children who skip breakfast or eating breakfast out of home may be at higher risk of suffering from anxiety, stress, depression.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Published : August 27, 2022 11:53 AM IST

Parents, ensure that your children eat breakfast every day at home. Skipping breakfast and eating breakfast out of home can increase risk of psychosocial behavioural problems (anxiety, stress, depression) in children and adolescents, according to a Spanish study.

Although there is no accepted definition, psychosocial health usually includes characteristics such as self-esteem and mood, as well as affective disorders, such as anxiety, noted the researchers. The study was recently published in Frontiers in Nutrition.

Further, they pointed out that anxiety is the leading causes of illness and disability among children and adolescents. Because most affective disorders begin in childhood, early identification and treatment of such complications is essential during the early stage of life, they added.

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For the study, the researchers assessed the breakfast status, place, and habits of 3,772 Spanish children and adolescents aged 4 14 years through ad hoc questions answered by parents/guardians. Their analysis showed that children who skipped breakfast or eat breakfast out of home tend to have greater odds of psychosocial behavioural problems than those eating breakfast at home.

Risk factors of psychosocial complications in children

Lower adherence to a healthy diet is one of the potential risk factors of psychosocial complications. Several studies have already indicated the association between skipping breakfast and increased risk of stress, depression, and psychological distress.

How skipping breakfast affects your child's psychosocial health? The researchers provided two possible explanations:

  • Children and adolescents who skip breakfast might not be able to recover the lost nutrients with the rest of the meals of the day.
  • They may consume more energy-dense foods during the rest of the day to compensate for their daily energy intake.

"These two factors could lead to an overall unhealthy/low-quality diet, which has been associated with depression or poorer psychosocial health in the young population," they said.

Eating out of home is another risk factor for poor psychosocial health in young people. When children eat at home, there is greater accessibility and availability of different foods. Plus, it provides a setting in which parents/guardians can control their behaviours.

On the other hand, eating out of home increases the risk for greater consumption of energy-dense foods and a lower consumption of nutrient-rich foods, which affects the psychosocial health of young people.

Bestbreakfast foods for children

Not only where they eat, but what they eat also affects their psychosocial health.

According to the researchers, a high-quality breakfast for children should have cereals, low-fat milk or other dairy products, and fruit or fruit juice.

The Spanish Society of Community Nutrition recommends consuming a healthy breakfast consisting of the triad:

  1. Dairy products (one glass of milk, one fresh yogurt or cheese)
  2. Cereals (bread, cookies, whole wheat bread, homemade pastries or breakfast cereals)
  3. Fruit or natural juice (whole fruit is more beneficial than fruit juices).

On some occasions, you may consider adding other protein foods, such as eggs, ham, nuts, etc., the experts said.

Benefits of eating a healthy breakfast

Eating a healthy breakfast daily can provide multiple health benefits such as higher levels of physical activity, improved memory power and cognitive function.

This Spanish study also indicated that having a high-quality breakfast is crucial for the psychosocial health of children and adolescents.

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