Skipping Breakfast Common Among U.S. Girls

The problem is most pronounced among black teens, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, June 1, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- As they get older, American adolescent girls start to skip breakfast more often, with black girls more likely to forego the morning meal than their white peers, according to a new study.

Skipping breakfast may predispose girls to diets that are low in calcium and fiber, the researchers added. They also noted that girls who routinely eat breakfast are actually less prone to becoming overweight or obese compared with girls who skip the first meal of the day.

In their study, researchers at the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati and elsewhere examined the food consumption records of nearly 2,400 girls. Beginning at age 9 or 10, the girls kept these records as part of the nine-year Growth Health Study, conducted by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The researchers found that rates of everyday breakfast consumption declined from more than 77 percent for nine-year-old white girls and 57 percent for nine-year-old black girls to less than 32 percent and 22 percent, respectively, by the time the girls reached age 19.

When they were nine years old, fewer than one percent of white girls and 2.5 percent of black girls skipped breakfast on each day of a random three-day tracking period. By age 19, that number had increased to more than 19 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

At all ages between nine and 19, black girls consistently ate breakfast less often than white girls.

The authors urged health professionals to "be aware of the age and race-related differences in breakfast eating, promote the importance of eating a healthful breakfast meal to children and adolescents and be aware that African-American girls may be particularly likely to omit breakfast."

The study appears in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains why growing girls need calcium.

SOURCE: American Dietetic Association, news release, June 1, 2005

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