Home / Resources / Articles / Missing Breakfast and its Correlation with Increased Risk of Childhood Obesity

Missing Breakfast and its Correlation with Increased Risk of Childhood Obesity

Jan 12, 2019
 
Editor: Joy Pape, MSN, FNP-C, CDE, WOCN, CFCN, FAADE

Author: Michael Zaccaro, Pharm. D. Candidate 2019, LECOM School of Pharmacy

Study targets breakfast habits of parents and its effects on their children.

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the developed world, with incidences increasing steadily over the past several decades. If childhood obesity develops, it typically has a cascading effect into adulthood and is a fairly good predictor of morbidity and mortality later in life. It has been suggested by recent studies that routinely skipping breakfast may be associated with increased risk of childhood obesity; however, evidence has been conflicting. This is of interest because an increasing percentage of studied populations have reported skipping breakfast and evidence suggests that the eating habits of the parents are often shared by the children and then carried into adulthood. This study aims to determine what effect a parent’s meal skipping habits have on their children’s food intake, as well as if skipping breakfast is associated with increased risk of obesity in children.

An observational study design was selected as the researchers wished only to determine if a correlation exists. Data from the previously taken “Longitudinal Survey of Newborns in the 21st Century” was re-analyzed for the purposes of this study. The survey included all babies born within a 2-week window during 2001 in Japan. The parents of the children listed in the survey were sent questionnaires starting at 6 months then yearly until the child was 12 years of age. Only the data from those whose parents responded to the assessment of breakfast intake were included in the study. Of the mailed surveys, the 2nd and 9th survey asked about parental breakfast habits and the 3rd through the 12th survey asked about the child’s breakfast habits. Each survey asked about the child’s height and weight. The children’s BMIs were calculated with the information given by the parents and compared against the child’s breakfast skipping habits. Logistic regression was used to determine statistical significance and the threshold for significance was set at 5%.

Of the 53,575 families that were surveyed, 42,663 provided adequate information in the questionnaires and were therefore included in the study. When the data was analyzed it was discovered that roughly 32% of fathers and 12% of mothers skipped breakfast on a regular basis. When compared against the child’s eating habits, it was found that when either parent skipped breakfast, the child is more likely to skip breakfast as well. This observation was compounded when both parents skipped breakfast, resulting in the child being far more likely to skip breakfast than in either of the other scenarios (odds ratio of 2.38 to 5.33 when compared to children whose parents don’t skip breakfast). Once the children’s BMIs were calculated and compared against their breakfast-eating habits, it was determined that children who skip breakfast were at increased risk of having excess weight or obesity (odds ratio of 2.16) compared to those who do not skip breakfast.

The results of this study indicate that, when compared to children with recommended eating habits, children who skip breakfast are more likely to have excess weight or  obesity. Furthermore, children in the study population were found to be more likely to skip breakfast if one or both of their parents regularly skip breakfast as well. While these findings suggest only association and not causation, they still effectively highlight the need for better nutritional habits, in both parents and children, (specifically the regular consumption of a well-balanced breakfast) in order to prevent children from having excess weight or obesity.

Practice Pearls:

  • Children are more likely to skip breakfast if one or both of their parents regularly skips breakfast.
  • Children who regularly skip breakfast are at increased risk of having excess weight or obesity compared to children who do not skip breakfast.
  • Advising that children and their parents routinely eat a well-balanced breakfast is a reasonable recommendation.

Reference:

Okada, Chika, et al. “Association between Skipping Breakfast in Parents and Children and Childhood Overweight/Obesity among Children: a Nationwide 10.5-Year Prospective Study in Japan.” International Journal of Obesity, vol. 42, no. 10, 2018, pp. 1724–1732., doi:10.1038/s41366-018-0066-5.

Michael Zaccaro, Pharm. D. Candidate 2019, LECOM School of Pharmacy