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Teen Health

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Teen Girls Skip Breakfast More as They Age

Girls Who Eat Breakfast Have Healthier Diets, Study Shows

WebMD Health News

June 3, 2005 -- Skipping breakfast becomes more common among teenaged girls as they get older, but that habit may be setting them up for weight gainmay be setting them up for weight gain and a diet lacking critical nutrients.

A new study shows that adolescent girls skip breakfast more often as they get older, and black girls are more likely to skip their morning meal than white girls.

Researchers say the results suggest skipping breakfast may predispose girls to diets that are low in calcium and fiber as well as sabotage weight loss efforts. That's because the study also showed that teenaged girls who eat breakfast are leaner and have a lower body mass index (BMI, a measure of weight in relationship to height)eat breakfast are leaner and have a lower body mass index (BMI, a measure of weight in relationship to height) than those who routinely skip breakfast.

Breakfast and the Teenaged Girl

In the study, which appears in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers analyzed information from a nine-year federal health study containing dietary information from more than 2,300 girls who entered the study at age 9 or 10.

The findings include:

  • The percentage of girls who ate breakfast on a daily basis dropped dramatically from more than 77% for 9-year-old white girls and 57% for 9-year-old black girls to less than 32% and 22%, respectively, by age 19.
  • Black girls consistently ate breakfast less often than white girls at all age levels.
  • Girls who ate breakfast regularly had a lower BMI than those who regularly skipped breakfast.
  • Girls who ate breakfast consistently had diets that were higher in fiber and calcium.

Researchers say these results add to a growing body of evidence that eating breakfast provides nutritional benefits to children and adolescents.

Eating breakfast is associated with more healthful food choices and regular eating patterns throughout the day and other health-related behaviors such as regular physical activity, they write.

In addition, they say routinely eating breakfast may lead to more regular eating habits and exercise patterns, healthful food choices, and consistent energy intake, which may pay off in many other healthful ways in the long run.

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