Conventional wisdom states that you gain weight if you eat more, but there's an increasing body of evidence that finds that when you eat might can be just as important as much—especially for children. Children who skip breakfast are more likely to be obese, according to new research from academics at the University College of London. According to the study's abstract, which was published in the US journal Pediatrics this week, skipping breakfast was linked to childhood obesity, and a high BMI was, in turn, linked with "worse psychosocial well-being" and lower self-esteem. Regularly consuming sugary drinks or eating a lot of fruit, however, were not predictive of future BMI.
"This study shows that disrupted routines, exemplified by irregular sleeping patterns and skipping breakfast, could influence weight gain through increased appetite and the consumption of energy-dense foods," explained Yvonne Kelly, the lead author of the study and professor at UCL's department of epidemiology and public health, in a press release.
Kelly's research used data from "the Millennium Cohort Study, a study of children born into 19,244 families in the UK between September 2000 and January 2002," and ultimately determined that missing breakfast was a risk factor for obesity among children, along with irregular bedtime routines.
Though significant because of its sample size, this study is far from the first research highlighting the link between childhood obesity and skipping breakfast. A 2013 study of 625 children, conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, found that the children who ate a bowl of cereal every morning were less likely to be obese or overweight than children who skipped breakfast. According to research published in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity that was published in 2009, high meal frequency is correlated with a lower weight among children. A study published in Pediatric Obesity in March 2016 even found that children who skipped breakfast were twice as likely to be overweight than kids who ate two breakfasts.
So if you want to set your child up for a healthy future, make sure they eat breakfast every single day. It can be as simple as a bowl of cereal or a slice of toast with peanut butter or even a granola bar, as long as it's breakfast.