New US research has found that regularly eating breakfast together as a family could help promote a positive body image for children and teenagers.
Carried out by researchers at the University of Missouri, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and Washburn University, the new large-scale study included 12,642 students across the USA who were asked to record how often they ate breakfast, how often they ate meals with a parent, and their eating habits in general.
The findings, published in the journal Social Work in Public Health, showed that just over 50% of students reported eating breakfast five days a week, and more than 30% reported eating breakfast less than five times a week.
Nearly 17% reported never eating breakfast and boys were more likely to eat breakfast than girls.
In addition, the team also found that children and teens who ate breakfast during the week were more likely to have a positive body image, especially if they regularly ate breakfast with a parent.
“We know that developing healthy behaviours in adolescence such as eating breakfast every day and eating family meals can have long-term effects into adulthood,” said study author Virginia Ramseyer Winter.
“Children and adolescents are under a lot of pressure from social media and pop culture when it comes to physical appearance. Having a healthy relationship with food from eating breakfast and spending meal time with family might have a significant impact on well-being.”
“We know that the health behaviors of a parent can have long-term effects on a child,” adds Ramseyer Winter. “Results of this study suggest that positive interactions with food – such as eating breakfast and having family meals together – could be associated with body image.”