Breakfast holds key to better child health

One simple action could stop the worrying reality that British children are getting fatter, less physically active and less fit - eating breakfast.

 According to new research by the University, just published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children who skipped breakfast were less active than those who ate it.

 Scientists at Essex looked at the fitness, physical activity, weight and breakfast habits of more than 4,000 children. The study found that a quarter of boys and a third of girls regularly went to school without eating breakfast. And the children who did not eat breakfast were less active than those who did.

The research found that boys who skipped breakfast were twice as likely to be classified as unfit compared with those who always managed to eat something before leaving home.

The findings all suggest that the lower physical activity in breakfast skippers may be having a knock-on effect on children's body weight. Breakfast skippers were nearly twice as likely to be obese compared with those who ate breakfast every day.

There are a number of reasons why children don't eat breakfast. For boys it is often due to a lack of time in the mornings. Boys tend to be more active than girls, but if they don't have breakfast they will not have the energy to be active at school and may under-perform in PE lessons.