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What’s for breakfast has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. The standard American breakfast in the 1960s consisted of bacon, eggs, toast and milk. That’s been replaced by ready-to-eat boxed cereals and carbohydrate-rich foods. In fact, breakfast has been falling out of favor for the past 20 years, according to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine article on “The Benefits of Breakfast Consumption to Combat Obesity and Diabetes in Young People.”
The trend has closely paralleled a significant rise in obesity, the researchers said. Overweight and obese youths are twice as likely to skip breakfast as their peers who are a normal weight.
In June, a study led by Odegaard at the University of Minnesota, found that people who ate breakfast at least four times a week had a “significantly lower risk” of developing obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes than those who skipped. A month later, Harvard University researchers published a study that showed that men who skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack than those who ate breakfast.
Much of this research homes in on people’s breakfast-eating habits. “What those studies have shown is that the people who eat breakfast tend to eat less throughout the day,” Odegaard said. “People who skip it end up gorging on meals and snacks later throughout the day.”
But research linking breakfast to weight control has come under fire lately. The collective breakfast studies, noted the authors of a study published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have not established a “causal relation” between skipping breakfast and obesity.
Still, research chronicling the benefits of breakfast abounds. A recent Ohio University study, which used brain scans of students, discovered that those who ate a healthy breakfast and exercised every day had higher test scores and better concentration skills in class.
Wilson, the Hopkins High student, is starting to rethink her habit of eating nothing but junk food in the morning. It makes her feel “tired and slouchy” at school, she said. “I think I’d do better if I ate a cooked breakfast.”
On a recent morning at Hopkins West Junior High, the food service staff armed themselves with a menu designed to win over young taste buds and nutritionists alike. By 7:20 a.m. the doors had swung open and students poured into the cafeteria.
At one table, friends Nick Dutcher, 13, and Everett Hopp, 12, chatted over their plates of waffles, pears and milk. Both boys are big fans of breakfast and make it a habit to eat something every morning — either at home or at school. Hopp said he was surprised to learn that many kids his age choose not to eat breakfast.
“People I know are always eating breakfast,” he said, shaking his head.
Allie Shah • 612-673-4488