With more and more schools offering free breakfasts for students, there was growing concern that some children would be risking obesity if they ate at breakfast at home too.
As it turns out, it’s the opposite.
A new study claims kids adopting a Hobbit-like meal schedule – the double breakfast – are at less risk of being overweight than those who eat nothing at all. So two breakfasts is actually better than none.
“Our study does add to the argument that it’s really important to make sure that as many kids as possible are getting a healthy breakfast,” says Marlene Schwartz, of the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
“Especially in low-income communities, having universal access to healthy breakfasts is helpful.”
Free meals in the U.S. – adding breakfast and even supper to the standard school-time lunches – are seen as the best way to fight hunger amongst the impoverished.
Almost four million U.S. homes can’t provide enough nutritious food for their kids.
Schwartz and her fellow researchers studied students from 12 schools in New Haven, Conn., documenting students for two grade years (grades five to seven). Recording their eating habits and weights, Schwartz found weight change in double-breakfast students was no different than the average weight change of all students over the years.
Students who forgo breakfast altogether were twice as likely to be overweight or obese than their double-breakfast brethren. There’s no specific cause to why this happens – one theory is overeating/over compensating from starving for half the day – but free school breakfasts must meet stringent federal nutrition guidelines. So that keeps kids’ meals in check (at least one of them anyway).
“It’s not like these kids are eating two breakfasts of donuts,” Schwartz said. “School breakfasts are very healthy. It’s fruit and low-fat dairy and whole grains. So you could almost think of it as a healthy snack.”
West Virginia leads America in breakfast participation rate at 82 children receiving breakfast for every 100 receiving lunch. Utah finished dead last amongst the 53 states, with just 35 students receiving breakfast for every 100 receiving lunch.