Unfortunately research has shown that Australian children aren’t eating enough breakfast or aren’t eating breakfast at all! This is a worrying trend because breakfast plays a crucial role in ensuring children meet their daily nutritional requirements for growth and also have the energy to concentrate and perform well at school.
‘New research reveals more than 2.2 million (67%) Australian parents worry their children don’t eat enough breakfast to get them through a morning at primary school, while almost 200,000 parents send their children to primary school without breakfast most mornings.’
Breakfast used to be the most important meal of the day but we are now seeing children as young as primary school ages skipping it. The number of children skipping breakfast decreases even further once high school is reached.
‘It shows two out of three parents (67%) resort to strategies including bribes and/or bans to get their children to eat breakfast before primary school. Among these parents, almost half (46%) agree that banning TV and access to technology is the most successful tactic.’
The trend can in part be explained b our lives becoming much busier and parents being strapped for time. Breakfast can be stressful for parents of children who do not want to eat. On top of this, children often see parent’s skipping their breakfast and this reinforces the idea that it’s ok.
Mother-of-two, dietitian and expert on taming fussy eaters Kate Di Prima said the figures were alarming. “The primary school years are the most crucial for in establishing routines and healthy dietary habits, and while parents are desperately trying to do what’s right, they’re often pressed for time and completely confused as to what’s good for their children,” said Ms Di Prima.’
It’s ok to make options that are very quick and simple – such as healthy cereals or fruit and yoghurt and toast. A good cereal is one of the best options, in fact – providing them with a source of dairy and many other micro and macro nutrients. Breakfasts do not need to be elaborate and cooked every morning. Turn off the TV and get your child to concentrate on eating.
‘The Galaxy research shows for most parents (72%) a bowl of cereal is the easiest option to get their children to eat on a school morning, followed by toast (67%) and fruit (23%).’
‘Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and ABCMF Director Leigh Reeve said breakfast was essential to give children the energy and nutrient boost. “Children need most of their food and energy in the mornings to take on the day and meet the needs of their growing bodies,” said Ms Reeve. “It also makes a big difference in the classroom. Scientific research shows eating breakfast helps children perform better at school in both mathematical and creative tasks.’
So if breakfast is a battle for you and your children in the morning, what can you do about it? Remember that it may take some time to get your children in to the habit of eating breakfast but once they have a routine it will certainly get easier!
‘The Galaxy research shows two thirds (66%) of parents find it a challenge to get their children to eat breakfast before primary school and for more than a third (38%) it’s a weekly battle.’
Apart from restricting TV and technology to win the breakfast battle, parents who have tried different strategies have found success with making a favourite breakfast for their children as a treat (27%), praise and reward charts (20%), preparing brekkie to have on the way to school (17%), and setting alarms earlier (17%). It also shows parents who skip breakfast are more likely to have children that skip breakfast too, reporting a 15 percentage point increase in skipping breakfast compared to the children of adults who don’t skip breakfast.