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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Eating breakfast every day is the healthy option

Eating breakfast with the family can help children to maintain a healthy body weight and to be more active. The risk of cardiovascular disease is lower because the morning meal has a positive effect on blood lipids. This is according to the European IDEFICS study on the identification and prevention of health effects of diet and lifestyle in children. More than 8800 children aged between two and nine from eight European countries took part in the survey. In Germany the Leibniz-Institute of prevention research and epidemiology (BIPS) was involved.

“Breakfast skippers” are likely to be overweight

In the questionnaires, parents provided information on the breakfast habits of boys and girls. Almost 80 percent of children aged six to ten ate their breakfast at home each day. However, for younger children this figure was only 70 percent. The researchers concluded that those who eat breakfast at home have more energy for the day and are more active in everyday life. If boys usually eat nothing before school, they are likely to be overweight, have high blood fat levels (triglycerides greater than 75 mg/dl) and lower levels of HDL ‘good cholesterol’ (less than 40 mg / dl). Among girls who skip breakfast there was an additional unfavourable ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol (greater than 3.5), independent of other factors such as physical activity. The backgrounds of the families are to be investigated in further studies. In addition, is not yet clear whether the quality of the meal has any effect on these outcomes.

A balanced breakfast

Unfortunately not all children get something to eat in the morning before school or playschool. “The way for parents to get their children off to a healthy start in the morning is by giving them breakfast” explains nutritionist Harald Seitz. Energy to learn and play comes from one to two servings of wholewheat bread, some chopped fruit or vegetables or dairy products. An alternative to sweetened breakfast cereals is multi-grain muesli with nuts and dried or fresh fruit served with yoghurt or milk. The best thirst quenchers are water and unsweetened fruit tea. “Sweet spreads are not forbidden” says father-of-three Seitz. It’s important for breakfast to taste good, so parents might consider varying the types of bread served in order to make breakfast more interesting.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de