A new study finds eating a healthy breakfast — together at home — goes a long way to help your children’s psychosocial health.
We already know that eating a healthy breakfast is important to help children’s cognitive scores at school. This study found eating a healthy breakfast was just as important for children’s behaviors.
In the study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers found that missing breakfast or eating breakfast away from home was linked to higher odds of psychosocial behavioral problems.
“Our results suggest that it is not only important to eat breakfast, but it’s also important where young people eat breakfast and what they eat,” said Jóse Francisco López-Gil Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Cuenca, Spain.
“Skipping breakfast or eating breakfast away from home is associated with increased likelihood of psychosocial behavioral problems in children and adolescents.”
Using data from the Spanish National Health Survey, López-Gil and colleagues analyzed the eating habits of 3,773 children aged 4 to 14 years.
To gather information on psychosocial behavior, parents of the children who participated in the study completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, reporting details about the child’s anxiety, self-esteem, mood and more.
This study of Spanish families may have been unusual as nearly every participant ate breakfast at home — 98.9% ate breakfast overall and 95.8% ate it at home — and most had what researchers deemed normal psychosocial behavior (87%).
That number of breakfasts eaten at home might be much lower in America since many elementary and middle-school students eat breakfast at school.
The most reported breakfast meals in the study were cereals, toast, pastries and bread.
The researchers found that children who skipped breakfast regularly faced much higher odds of having psychosocial behavioral problems — at least three times more than those of children who ate breakfast regularly. Children who ate breakfast away from their homes were much more likely to have behavioral problems.
Because those who ate at home were more likely to do so with family members, the researchers wrote that social and family needs may factor into the results.
“Family meals are a family time that provides an opportunity for families to connect despite the ongoing intense demands of modern life,” they noted.
The bottom line is family meals matter and are beneficial for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Q: Is there a nutritional difference between oatmeal and oat bran?
A: Oatmeal is the entire oat grain, including the bran. Oat bran has been separated out and is often cooked into a hot porridge or added to baked goods.
The biggest difference nutritionally is the fiber; oat bran has more fiber. Oatmeal is about 12% bran while oat bran is 100% bran.
Both oatmeal and oat bran are healthy choices. Top the cooked cereals with fresh fruit or sprinkle oat bran on Greek yogurt or cereal.
Breakfast Naan Pizza
Pizza for breakfast? That’s a sure way to get the entire family to eat breakfast together. The recipe is from EatingWell magazine. Alter it with your favorite veggies — like spinach, red or yellow pepper strips and chopped onions. You can make it in 10 minutes or less.
» 1 whole-wheat naan
» 2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese
» 1 tablespoon low-sodium marinara or pesto
» ½ teaspoon lemon zest
» 1 large egg
» 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
» Chopped fresh basil and ground pepper for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place naan on the prepared pan.
Mix ricotta, marinara (or pesto) and lemon zest in a small bowl. Spread the mixture onto the naan, creating a well in the center. Carefully crack egg into the well. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake until naan is golden, the egg white is set, and the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes. Garnish with basil and pepper, if desired.
Per serving: 458 calories; 24 grams protein; 52 grams carbohydrates; 17 grams fat (7 grams saturated); 202 milligrams cholesterol; 5 grams fiber; 5 grams sugar; 758 milligrams sodium
— Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois. Contact her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd, or click here for additional columns. The opinions expressed are her own.