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|Breakfast slims teen girls|
Girls who regularly ate breakfast,
particularly one that includes cereal, were slimmer than those who
skipped the morning meal, according to a study that tracked nearly
2,400 girls for 10 years.
Girls who ate breakfast of any type
had a lower average body mass index, a common obesity gauge, than
those who said they didn't. The index was even lower for girls who
said they ate cereal for breakfast, according to findings of the
study conducted by the Maryland Medical Research Institute. The
study received funding from the National Institutes of Health and
cereal-maker General Mills Inc.
"Not eating breakfast is the
worst thing you can do, that's really the take-home message for
teenage girls," said study author Bruce Barton, the Maryland
institute's president and CEO.
The fiber in cereal and
healthier foods that normally accompany cereal, such as milk and
orange juice, may account for the lower body mass index among cereal
eaters, Barton said.
The results were gleaned from a larger
NIH survey of 2,379 girls in California, Ohio and Maryland who were
tracked between ages 9 and 19. Results of the study appear in the
September issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic
Nearly one in three adolescent girls in the
United States is overweight, according to the association. The
problem is particularly troubling because research shows becoming
overweight as a child can lead to a lifetime struggle with
As part of the survey, the girls were asked once a
year what they had eaten during the previous three days. The data
were adjusted to compensate for factors such as differences in
physical activity among the girls and normal increases in body fat
A girl who reported eating breakfast on
all three days had, on average, a body mass index 0.7 units lower
than a girl who did not eat breakfast at all. If the breakfast
included cereal, the average was 1.65 units lower, the researchers
Breakfast consumption dropped as the girls aged, the
researchers found, and those who did not eat breakfast tended to eat
higher fat foods later in the day.
"We think it kick-starts
your metabolism because you've eaten something," Barton said. "When
you get to lunch you're not starving and you can make reasonable
choices for lunch and dinner."
John Kirwan, a professor of
medicine at Case Western Reserve University's Schwartz Center for
Nutrition and Metabolism, said the findings may be "more reflective
of overall eating habits and quality of food
"Those who eat breakfast on a regular basis are
more likely to have a structured eating plan throughout the day and
consequently are less likely to snack between meals and consume
empty calories," said Kirwan, who has studied the effect of
breakfast consumption on exercise performance and was not involved
in the study.
He also pointed out that the study did not
distinguish between low-sugar and high-sugar cereals, noting growing
evidence that those who eat so-called low glycemic foods have a
lower risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular
While cereal can often be high in fiber and low in
fat, "you can't walk away saying, I'm going to eat cereal and lose
weight," said Melinda Johnson, a dietitian with the Arizona state
health department and an ADA spokeswoman.
Johnson also noted,
however, that the foods often consumed with cereal tend to be
healthy, and the study was another in a series to find a link
between breakfast consumption and lower body mass index.
can walk away saying breakfast has been shown in lots of different
studies to be really important for my children," Johnson said. "So
parents can feel confident that serving cereal is definitely not
going to do harm and eating breakfast is the right thing to do."