Teenagers who miss breakfast are missing out on a vital intake of vitamins and minerals, according to a recent study in the US.
Theresa Nicklas, professor of paediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, found that adolescents who eat breakfast are two to five times more likely than breakfast-skippers to consume at least two-thirds of the daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of calcium, magnesium, riboflavin, folacin, phosphorus, iron and vitamins A, B6 and D.
The college is home to the Children's Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) where the study was carried out. The CNRC is operated by the Agricultural Research Service, the chief scientific research agency of the US Department of Agriculture.
Nicklas found that the intake of other vitamins and minerals - including zinc and calcium - as well as of protein and carbohydrates, was much higher among those who ate breakfast. In addition, breakfast eaters were found to consume less fat than their counterparts who skipped the first meal of the day.
The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and involved more than 700 15-year-olds. The students participated in a nutrition intervention programme in New Orleans, and an analysis of the results showed that 19 per cent of adolescents skipped breakfast.
Breakfast consumption has declined in all age groups during the past 25 years, the CNRC said, especially among female adolescents aged 15-18 years. Those teenagers who choose not to eat breakfast generally fail to make up the lost vitamins and minerals through other meals.
According to Nicklas, a greater effort is needed to encourage the consumption of breakfast to improve the nutritional well-being of adolescents. Many studies of breakfast consumption and dietary patterns are outdated, have not included the 15-year-old age group, or have included the 15-year-olds only as part of a broad age range, she added.
Fifteen is the age when many adolescents are entering high school and becoming more independent, which is part of the reason Nicklas chose this age group.