The Better Breakfast Choice for Fighting Childhood Obesity

Breakfast for Childhood Obesity

Oatmeal, cereal or an egg―which is the better breakfast choice for fighting childhood obesity?

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One of the blessings of a child growing older is their ability to eventually open a box of cereal and pour their own milk without a mess to make the morning breakfast rush hour more manageable. But as a parent are we doing a disservice to them by not taking the time to make a better breakfast choice for our children’s health? According to a recent study published earlier this year, eggs may beat both cereals and oatmeal for fighting childhood obesity.

According to the University of Pennsylvania news release Penn Current, Dr. Tanja Kral—a Penn Nursing professor and instructor of the academic course “Obesity and Society”―protein-rich foods like eggs keep children fuller and leads to eating fewer calories during lunch period.

Her view on eggs for breakfast is based on a joint study with colleagues from the University of Massachusetts and Emory University, that compared the effects of three different types of breakfast―eggs, cereal and oatmeal―on appetite and energy intake at subsequent meals in school age children.

“Approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents are considered obese in the United States,” stated Dr. Kral in the news release. “It’s really important to identify certain types of food that can help children feel full and also moderate caloric intake.”

In the study, forty children, ages 8–10, were served a compulsory breakfast of either egg, cereal, or oatmeal (350-calories each) followed by a lunch in which they were allowed to eat as much as they pleased once a week for three weeks. The children’s appetites were assessed and ranked repeatedly throughout the morning, with food records keeping track of how much they ate for the remainder of the day.

What the study found was that although what the child ate for breakfast did not affect their eating behavior over the entire day, it did lead to eating fewer calories at lunchtime.

“After consuming the egg breakfast”—which comprised of scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast, diced peaches, and 1 percent milk—“children reduced their energy intake at lunch by 70 calories (roughly equivalent to one small chocolate-chip cookie),” stated Dr. Kral, who also pointed out that, “We didn’t see this reduction after the cereal or oatmeal breakfast.”

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According to the news release, that one-cookie difference can add up over time:

Seventy calories may not sound significant, but according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, moderately active 8- to 10-year-old children need between 1,600 and 1,800 calories daily. The 70-calorie drop at one meal equals about 4 percent of a child’s daily caloric needs. Eating beyond the caloric threshold, even by a little, can cause excess weight gain and obesity, if sustained.

More surprising to the researchers was that when asked appetite-rating questions like, “How hungry are you?” and “How much food do you think you could eat right now?” the answers they gave regarding eating the egg breakfast were that eating eggs did not necessarily make them feel fuller than the cereal or oatmeal breakfast in spite of the fact that wound up eating less for lunch afterward. Kids—go figure.

The importance of the study is that it adds to the relatively scarce data related to studies that examine the role of protein in appetite and energy intake regulation in children. The researchers concluded that feeding a child an egg-based breakfast significantly reduced short-term, but not longer-term, energy intake in children in spite of the absence of differences in appetite ratings in comparison to eating cereal or oatmeal. In other words, eggs may be better toward helping prevent childhood obesity.

For an informative article on eggs, here’s some advice from Consumer Reports on Health on how to decipher 5 Egg Codes at Your Supermarket so that you will know what egg type you are buying. As an added plus, here are a Near Dozen Reasons For and Against Eating Eggs as well as why your natural cereal may be making you fat.

References:

Comparison of the satiating properties of egg- versus cereal grain-based breakfasts for appetite and energy intake control in childrenEating Behaviors volume 20, January 2016, Pages 14–20; Tanja V.E. Kral et al.

Penn Current news release "Eggs for breakfast keep children fuller longer, says Penn study"

Image composite courtesy of Pixabay

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