Breakfast eating and overweight in a pre-school population: is there a link?

Lise Dubois, Manon Girard, Monique Potvin Kent
Public Health Nutrition 2006, 9 (4): 436-42

OBJECTIVES: To analyse the socio-economic factors related to breakfast eating, the association between breakfast eating and overweight, and to gain a more thorough understanding of the relationship between these two elements in a population-based cohort of 4.5-year-old children. We hypothesised that a relationship could be observed between breakfast skipping and overweight independently of socio-economic factors such as ethnicity, maternal education, single parenting and family income.

DESIGN: A population-based study whereby standardised nutritional interviews were conducted with each child's parent. The children's height and weight were taken by a trained nutritionist and parents were asked about their child's breakfast eating.

SETTING: The analyses were performed using data from the Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (1998-2002), conducted by Santé Québec (Canada).

SUBJECTS: Subjects were 1549 children between the ages of 44 and 56 months, with a mean age of 49 months.

RESULTS: Almost a tenth (9.8%) of the children did not eat breakfast every day. A greater proportion of children with immigrant mothers (19.4% vs. 8.3% from non-immigrant mothers), with mothers with no high school diploma (17.5% vs. <10% for higher educated mothers) and from low-income families (15% for income of $39,999 or less vs. 5-10% for better income) did not eat breakfast every day. Not eating breakfast every day nearly doubled the odds (odds ratio=1.9, 95% confidence interval 1.2-3.2) of being overweight at 4.5 years when mother's immigrant status, household income and number of overweight/obese parents were part of the analysis.

CONCLUSION: Although our results require replication before public policy changes can be advocated, encouraging breakfast consumption among pre-school children is probably warranted and targeting families of low socio-economic status could potentially help in the prevention of childhood obesity.

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