A recent study indicated that body mass index (BMI) in children increases if they eat their breakfast out or if they skip breakfast.
BMI is the measurement of body fat based on body weight and height. It indicates if a person is overweight, obese, underweight or normal. A BMI score of between 20 and 25 is considered as healthy. A score below 20 indicates that that the person may be underweight, whereas a score above 25 indicates that the person may be overweight.
AdvertisementObesity among children is a rising health concern across the world. Studies have revealed an association between raised BMI and skipping breakfast. But so far, the relationship between weight and breakfast location is left unexplored.
S P P Tinand colleagues conducted a study to assess the relationship between the location of breakfast consumption and BMI among young children in Hong Kong. The study was published in International Journal of Obesity, 2012.
Fast food is inexpensive and easily accessible in Hong Kong. It is an attractive and convenient option to eating food at home.
Away-from-home breakfasts in Hong Kong include instant noodles and buns/bread with high fat and sugar content. This type of food is low in nutrition and more in calories. Such food is responsible for the increasing incidence of obesity among children. There has been surge in childhood obesity from 17.6 percent in 2001- 02 to 21.3 percent in 2007 - 08.
The cohort comprised of 113457 primary 4 (US grade 4) volunteers covered under the Hong Kong Department of Health Student Health Service between1998 to 2000. Out of 113457 participants 68606, participants (60.5 percent) had full recorded data and were followed-up after two years.
The data recorded included both the location and breakfast consumption on both occasions. Their lifestyle was also taken into account.
BMI was calculated by measuring height and weight of the participants.
The study showed that 85.3 percent children had breakfast at home, 5.2 percent skipped breakfast and 9.4 percent had breakfast away from home. The prevalence of skipping breakfast and eating out increased over a 2-year period. It was found that children who ate away from home had a higher BMI. Skipping breakfast comparatively had slightly smaller effect. Skipping breakfast leads to consumption of high-energy snacks later during the day, which may explain the weight gain.
It was concluded that eating breakfast away from home and skipping breakfast both resulted in increase in BMI during childhood but eating away from home showed greater rise in BMI. Weight and obesity can be managed effectively by eating breakfast at home. However, further research is needed to unveil the actual underlying mechanisms.
The study concluded, "Not only is it important to promote regular breakfast consumption among children, but also efforts should be made to encourage children to eat breakfast at home wherever possible."
Location of breakfast consumption predicts body mass index change in young Hong Kong children; S P P Tin, S Y Ho et al; International Journal of Obesity 2012.