Breakfast and Childhood Obesity

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My child hates to eat breakfast. Why is that a problem?

David Ludwig, MD
Breakfast is a time when we signal to the body that the fast from overnight has ended and that we need to shift into different biology. If we skip breakfast the body begins to experience a state of starvation and then responds appropriately. If we were actually starving, meaning reducing metabolic rate, increasing hunger and preparing us to hold on to calories as, as vigorously as possible. Those responses in the body make losing weight increasingly difficult, so the meal of breakfast is critically important to helping jump start our metabolism first thing in the morning, preventing excessive hunger and overeating later in the day. That doesn't mean that we have to um make a full course sit down meal. Even an apple and a piece of cheese walking to school um can be enough. It needs to be balanced and of good quality, so a bowl of highly sugared, highly processed breakfast cereal is really not the way to go. There are a number of less processed, whole grain, high fiber breakfast cereals that are available today. You have to look for them. Ideally, a serving of breakfast cereal should have at least 4 grams of fiber. And the first ingredient should have the word whole in front of it, whether that's whole wheat or whatever the grain is. The further down that sugar is on the label, the better. But that could be not just standard sugar, but sugar in its many disguises, including corn syrup, or high fructose corn syrup, cane syrup, fruit juice concentrate. If you can find a hearty whole grain cold breakfast cereal, that's fine for several days a week, but there are also a whole host of other kinds of breakfast that can be prepared at home in just a few minutes in the morning. We have recipes in the book for making old fashioned oatmeal the night before and then just heating it up in the morning, A little bit of toasted almonds and dried fruit, a little bit of maple syrup, and it's ready to be eaten.