Breakfast is no doubt the most important meal of the day. It kick-starts our day and provides our body and mind with the energy we need for the rest of the day. It is widely believed that students who eat breakfast have improved cognitive functions such as memory and neural efficiency, and perform better in school than those who don’t.
However, a recent SGBreakfast Study conducted by MILO Singapore on the breakfast habits of Primary and Secondary school children in Singapore revealed that an alarming 12.3% of our local kids aged between six to 12 years old skip breakfast.
The Study also shows that the number of students who skip breakfast increases with age (specifically those between 13-17 years old), and these breakfast skippers often feel irritable, are tired and unable to concentrate in school.
EFFECTS OF SKIPPING BREAKFAST
Dr Kalpana Bhaskaran, Manager for Nutrition Research under the School of Applied Science and Head for the Glycemic Index Research Unit at Temasek Polytechnic, was speaking at the panel discussion organised by MILO Singapore, and she explained that skipping breakfast impacts a child’s mental and physical strength to deal with everyday challenges, particularly exam stress.
While she advocates eating breakfast regularly, she also shares that not all breakfasts are created equal. Dr Bhaskaran advises parents to look for healthier breakfast choices that are low in Glycemic Index (GI) as it releases energy slowly and prevents the sugar level from dropping too rapidly.
Unfortunately, with the school day starting so early for our kids, it is sometimes challenging to get them to take their breakfast. Understanding our local culture of grab-and-go mornings, Ms Gladys Wong, Chief Dietician for Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, suggests packing sandwiches or making muesli-bars out of the breakfast cereals with honey so that it is easier for our local kids to eat on-the-go.
Dr Bhaskaran also shares that if a child cant stomach any food in the early morning, having a cup of MILO, which contains ACTIVGO- a combination of Protomalt, vitamins and minerals- is a good way to tide them over till recess time when they can have a proper meal.
IMPORTANCE OF WHOLE GRAINS
Breakfast cereals like Nestle’s KoKo Krunch, Honey Stars and Cheerios are also popular choices among kids. However, a commissioned study by Newcastle University on 561 Singapore Kids aged six to 12 revealed that our Singapore children are falling significantly short of the recommended daily whole grain intake. 94% of children surveyed do not meet whole grain intake recommendations and over half of six to 12 year olds do not consume any whole grain in their diet at all.
People who regularly eat whole grains enjoy the following benefits:
- Have a better nutrient intake (higher fibre, vitamins and minerals)
- Have a healthier body weight
- Are less likely to gain weight over time
- Have a healthier heart
- Are less likely to have diabetes and certain cancers
Ms Ece Durukan, Regional Nutrition and External Affairs Manager at Nestle Breakfast Cereals (Asia, Middle East & Africa), shares, “Whole grains are an essential component in the diet that provides us with an important source of fibre and other nutrients, which help to prevent heart disease, diabetes and weight gain.”
To help your children develop good breakfast-eating habits, follow these critical tips:
- Provide healthy choices for your kids- You are the gatekeeper of your kids’ health so make sure you provide them with good breakfast choices.
- Role model- Have breakfast with your kids, so that they will follow your example.
- Start good nutritious habits from young- As with any good habit, begin early so they are used to having breakfast when they are toddlers.
- Take it slow- Choose breakfast options that are low in Glycemic Index (GI).