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
Obesity 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
Fast food is
inexpensive and easily accessible in Hong Kong. It is an attractive and convenient
option to eating food at 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.