Eating breakfast at school helps middle school students avoid obesity, even if they have already had breakfast at home, a new study says.
Writing in the journal Pediatric Obesity, the researchers say students who eat one or even two breakfasts have lower obesity rates than students who skip breakfast altogether. The researchers are from the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, or CARE at the Yale School of Public Health and the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut.
The researchers said their study “does not support” the notion that students who eat two breakfasts gain weight.
"Providing a healthy breakfast to students at school helps alleviate food insecurity and is associated with students maintaining a healthy weight," said Jeannette Ickovics, the paper's senior author, director of CARE, and a professor at Yale School of Public Health.
For the study, researchers looked at 584 middle school students “in an urban school district where breakfast and lunch are provided to all students at no cost.”
The researchers tracked the students' breakfast-eating patterns and monitored their weight.
They found that students who skipped breakfast or ate breakfast inconsistently were “more than twice as likely to be overweight or obese compared to students who ate double breakfasts.”
They also found that students who ate double breakfasts showed no different weight changes from the other students.
"When it comes to the relationship between school breakfast and body weight, our study suggests that two breakfasts are better than none," said Marlene Schwartz, a study author and director of the Rudd Center.
Breakfast programs at schools have been shown to improve academic performance and increase overall health.
The researchers say their study could have policy implications in the fight against childhood obesity.
About one-third of American children between 6 and 11 is overweight or obese.