Breakfast essential for teens

  • Deborah Condon

Parents have been urged to ensure that their teenage children are eating a proper breakfast, particularly during the summer months.

Studies have repeatedly shown that people who skip breakfast are at an increased risk of being overweight. This is because skipping breakfast can slow a person’s metabolism, which contributes to weight gain.

“When we skip breakfast, there is also a high tendency to snack and graze instead,” said Dr Muireann Cullen of the Nutrition and Health Foundation (NHF).

She explained that after fasting all night, a person can often feel tired, sluggish and irritable when they wake up. This is due to the body’s energy stores being low. A teenager’s rapidly developing body and brain ‘needs a fresh supply of energy each day to keep going’.

“With many teenagers sleeping on during the holidays and busy parents rushing to leave the house in the morning, thought needs to go into what they are eating. Breakfast gives teenagers a much needed energy boost and can improve mood and concentrations levels,” Dr Cullen said.

She pointed out that a healthy breakfast should be high in fibre and low in fat. This can include wholemeal bread, wholegrain or high fibre cereals and fruit.

“High fibre foods give a sustained slow release of energy which is better for the body than the quick sugar rush that can result from high sugar foods,” Dr Cullen said.

However she added that sugar coated cereals do not have to be avoided altogether, as they are ‘a good energy source in addition to vitamins and minerals, especially for children who are physically active’. She said that people can have them ‘occasionally’, but to remember to wash teeth afterwards.

“Ready to eat breakfast cereals are convenient for busy families in the morning. Looking at the nutrition label will enable you to compare different cereals to choose the right one for your family. The milk used in cereals is also an important source of protein and many are fortified with added vitamin D, folic acid and other nutrients,” Dr Cullen said.

In order to help make breakfast an interesting meal for young people, she offered the following tips:
-Mix different cereals together, as this can give different flavours.
-Add fresh/dried/tinned fruit to cereal.
-Make a fruit salad, which is an easy and healthy breakfast. To add crunch, sprinkle some high fibre cereal over it.

For more information on eating healthily, click on…


Cally - 24/07/2008 10:50

I am one of the one in ten women (ths aplies to one in 25 men also) who since puberty cannot eat first thing in the morning - regardless of what / when we last ate or how early / late we went to bed the night before, I like many others need to be up at least an hour before we can eat.

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