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Whether you sit down at the kitchen table and eat a bowl of cereal with fruit or grab something quick as you run out the door, starting your morning off with breakfast is an important part of being healthy.

Even if you've never put the two together, your presence (or absence) in the morning may play a role in your own child's breakfast habits. A recent study from Oklahoma State University took a closer look at the relationship between "parental presence" and the breakfast habits of adolescents and young adults.

Why make such a big deal out of a bowl of cereal?

Unfortunately, as kids age, they are less likely to eat breakfast. From age 9-19, research has shown that in young girls breakfast rates can drop by more than 50%. The same study out of Oklahoma State reported that for both adolescents and young adults, being a regular breakfast eater appears to be protective against chronic obesity. On top of that, breakfast eaters do better in school, are more creative, have better concentration in class, perform better on tests, and have fewer behavioral problems.

It doesn't have to be a bowl of cereal. Try to include 3 food groups in your breakfast meal every day. Even if you aren't a cereal eater, you can enjoy the benefits of breakfast too. Try:

  • Sandwiches
  • Slice of pizza
  • Tortillas with filling (your choice)
  • Leftover spaghetti
  • Apples with cheese & crackers
  • Bagel with peanut butter and a glass of skim milk

Parents are role models. We’ve heard this before, but a reminder never hurts!

So what impact does your presence have on breakfast habits? The study showed that having at least one parent home during the morning was an important factor in whether or not the adolescent ate breakfast regularly. Home is where kids learn the most about food and making healthy choices. Family meals and parental presence are associated with better diet quality and healthier food-related choices.

What if Being Home in the Morning Isn't an Option?

If you have other responsibilities that prevent you from being home in the morning, that is definitely understandable. What else can you do? Encourage your kids to make breakfast a priority in their day. Research also shows that teenagers who commonly share meals with their parents (whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner) are more likely to eat breakfast regularly. So if you can’t be home for breakfast, make it a point to share other meals together.

Try this Lickety Split Breakfast

  • 1 Banana
  • 1/2 c. strawberry yogurt
  • 1/2 c. granola or whole grain cereal
  • 1/4 c. strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 c. pineapple, canned tidbits
  1. Peel and cut banana in half lengthwise
  2. Place banana in bowl
  3. Top banana with yogurt and sprinkle with granola and fruit

Audra Losey, MS, RDUNL Extension Educator

Audra Losey MS RD

Registered Dietitian from UNL Extension

Audra Losey is a wife and mom of two young children. She is a registered dietitian with a master's degree in Community Nutrition and Health Promotion and dual bachelor degrees in Exercise Science and Dietetics. Audra is employed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Nutrition Education Program teaching limited resource families in Douglas and Sarpy counties about healthy eating on a budget. She's especially interested in teaching kids about food and physical activity, and connect ...

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Categories: nutrition, development,