Why Teens Need Breakfast
Teens and breakfast don’t seem to go together, so you need to understand why teens need breakfast. As a teacher and tutor, I am appalled at the number of teens who skip breakfast. Worse still, there are some who don’t even eat lunch. During school, their energy is so low that they have trouble staying awake and thinking. Either they are not sharing this information or the parents are so busy that they are not aware of the bad eating habits of their teenagers.
Feeding teens can be challenging. Their needs are different from those of younger children. Teens need to be taught to make healthy choices and appreciate good food. Part of the problem comes from advertising. The pictures of models make them believe that they are too fat when they are not. A study in Pediatrics suggests that teens who miss breakfast are more likely to be overweight. Teenagers who eat breakfast tend to be more active. The quality of their diets and attitudes towards food is better.
Teens who skip breakfast tend to overeat later in the day and eat high-fat snacks. Studies show that if they don’t eat in the morning, they experience a drop in energy mid-morning. This has an impact on the ratings. In fact, teens who skip breakfast are more likely to be obese as adults. Obesity among children and adults is a growing problem in the United States.
High school students spend more time in school. Many of these schools do not allow them to go out for lunch. They have more money and more exposure to vending machines. While vending machines are not always sources of unhealthy food and drink, combined with the options in the cafeteria they create a “junk food” diet. Many students do not opt for low-fat lunches according to a School Nutrition and Diet Study.
Excuses for skipping breakfast include not having enough time or not being hungry early in the morning. Both are easily resolved. Parents should first talk to their teens about the importance of nutrition and why skipping meals can be detrimental to their health. Explain the downside of not eating a proper diet. At Harvard University, a Massachusetts General Hospital study found that students who eat breakfast have better grades and lower rates of absences and tardies.
Don’t let excuses stop you from making them eat in the morning. Set expectations. You can set up a menu consisting of takeout food. Some of the items you can include are: fruit and bran muffins, smoothies, granola, breakfast bars and drinks, fruit salad cups. There are even frozen breakfasts that your teen can pop into the toaster and have on the way out the door. All of these can be eaten “on the go” before school. There really are no excuses for teens not to have some kind of breakfast.
Another idea worth trying is to include a nutrition break in your school schedule. The high school where I taught for many years had a fifteen minute nutritional break at 9 AM. This worked well in a school of 2,600 students. The students had the opportunity to eat something and increase their energy. Talk to the principal and PTA, and see if something like this can be arranged for next semester. It does not mean extending the school day. It can be achieved by shaving a few minutes each period. It’s worth a try for healthier teens.
Getting your teen to eat well and not skip meals is critical to their future well-being and is necessary to understanding why teens need breakfast. Eating breakfast is one way to help them get the essential nutrients they need to stay strong and healthy and do well in school. Involve. Teen and breakfast really go hand in hand.