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September 7, 2008

Proper breakfast prevents snacking and obesity

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives kids and teens the energy they need to perform at school and helps adults get through the workday without burning out.

We're not talking the William Shatner fibre-type breakfast, or sugar dusted Frosted Flakes either. We're talking a good cereal, toast, some eggs and juice or milk.

Studies show that a blend of different healthy foods is best.

Healthy foods in the morning stimulate the digestive system to better utilize the nutrients we consume. Morning eggs for example will boost your metabolism and help regulate your appetite throughout the day.

Breakfast is an effective tool for weight control at every age. The more often you eat breakfast the less likely you are to have an obesity problem, and you are more likely to meet your body's fibre, calcium and B vitamin needs.

All of this breakfast hype begs the question - what constitutes a healthy breakfast?

"There's a simple way of looking at it," says Nicole Springle, Acting Director of Nutrition at Cleveland Clinic in Toronto. "Choose three of the four food groups. Try for four."

"People often forget to include protein," Springle says. She recommends getting protein from lean meats, eggs, nuts or dairy. "Breakfast is also a great time to get in a high source of fibre, from whole grains, berries or a high fibre cereal," she adds.

A 2006 Statistics Canada report showed that Canadians were getting more calories from snacks than from breakfast. The report also revealed that 10 per cent of Canadians skipped breakfast entirely. Some research suggests the number of people eating breakfast every day is much lower than reported by Statistics Canada, especially among obese youth.

Recently released findings from the Nova Scotia-wide Physical Activity and Dietary Intake of Children and Youth (PACY) study show that 53.3 percent of normal weight students ate breakfast everyday, while only 28.6 percent of their obese classmates did the same. This study also revealed that the majority of overweight and obese students were concerned about their weight.

"We're seeing a trend where more normal weight students eat breakfast alone," explains Dr. René Murphy, PACY research team member. "These students are taking the initiative to eat this meal every morning. This may be playing a major role in their ability to maintain a healthy weight."

Evidently it would be very easy to point the finger at lazy parenting and allowing snacks to get out of hand with a solid breakfast is what kids really need. We're all guilty of skipping breakfast now and then, but if a person is skipping breakfast all the time and snacking on sugary/high fat items all the time instead... its time to make a NO SNACKS RULE and start reinforcing a healthy breakfast.

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