Did you know that unhealthy eating habits begin at the breakfast table? Even though it’s well known that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, many children don’t eat breakfast and go to school with a fuel tank that’s empty!
Why is breakfast important?
Breakfast kick-starts your child’s metabolism, helps increase your child’s focus, learning and overall school performance, and keeps their energy levels up. Children who skip breakfast tend to eat more calories and snack of unhealthy foods, leading to childhood obesity issues. They’re also less likely to meet their overall nutritional needs.
What research reveals
Nestle South Africa conducted an online poll to learn more about South African families’ breakfast routines, and the results were surprising. When asked if they send their children to school with full stomachs, the majority of parents surveyed said “yes”. However, 95% of parents are concerned that their children are leaving home with a less-than-nutritious breakfast, and that this may affect their school performance.
South Africa’s obesity problem
Surprisingly, only 6% of mothers thought their children were overweight. When looking at the big picture, however, South Africa is on the verge of overtaking America as the world’s fattest country, with nearly half of South Africans over the age of 15 being overweight or obese.
The majority of parents believe that feeding their children fruit and yoghurt for breakfast is the healthiest option. While yoghurt and fruit is a healthy option, it contains 45 grams of sugar, which is more than three times the amount in a bowl of sugary cereal with milk.
The importance of wholegrains
According to the online study, parents are aware of the health benefits of wholegrain cereals. Oats were a particularly popular option. The study also revealed that bacon and eggs have been dropped from the South African breakfast menu, at least as a before-school meal, because only 6% of parents questioned believe it is the healthiest option for their children.
Nutritionist Anne-Marie De Beer of Nestle South Africa says that breakfast is becoming a more important topic for parents to discuss with their children.
“The days of sweet jams, white bread, and greasy egg and bacon are long gone. Parents want to provide a healthier breakfast for their children so that they can excel in school,” she concludes.