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Although having a nutritious breakfast before going to school or work has long been recommended by public health experts, a new study of Israeli first-graders has shown that 40 percent of their parents report their children do not eat breakfast daily; of these, 42% don't eat breakfast at all.
The study, which won an award, was presented at the conference in Ashkelon of the Israel Society of Pediatrics in the Community by its authors, who are dieticians at the Association for Public Health.
Of those who do eat some breakfast 76% reportedly do not include fruits or vegetables in the morning meal before going to school, and only about a third eat some fruit or vegetable during the mid-morning school snack break. When asked, first-graders most preferred a sweet drink, cake, cookies or sugary breakfast cereals, which have little or no nutritional value.
A nutritious breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day, as it provides longer-term energy, fiber and vitamins to get through daily activities. It has been shown that adults and children who skip breakfast are more likely to eat junk food later in the day, consuming products that provide quick energy but have a high calorie and sugar content and nothing beneficial to the body. They are also more likely to become overweight or obese.
Pupils who miss breakfast have been shown to get lower grades and perform more poorly on memory tests.