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Breakfast choice matters when it comes to kids nutrition
A new Australian study has examined breakfast
habits of Australian children looking at what they
ate and how it impacted their nutrient and sugars
The Nutrition Research Australia (NRA) study,
published in the international journal Nutrients,
analysed data from the ABS Australian Health
Survey. Five of the key findings included...
Easy brekkie gets nutrition tick - Grabbing a
bowl of breakfast cereal for your children may be
more than a quick-fix to help manage the morning
The good news is that as well as being the
most popular way to start the day, it also gets
a big nutrition tick. The NRA study showed
Australian children that
started their day
cereal had the
highest intakes of
dietary fibre and
calcium and iron –
key nutrients where
Australian children are
falling short. In fact
compared to children
that ate other foods
for breakfast, cereal
eaters had 32percent
more iron, 30percent
calcium, and 9percent
less salt in their daily
diets. It also found the
nutritional benefits were
of the total sugars* content of the breakfast
Troubled teens - Growth spurts and
changing bodies mean teens have greater
nutritional needs, but their breakfast habits
could be robbing them of important vitamins
The NRA study revealed teens were more
likely to have skipped breakfast and less
likely to have eaten breakfast cereal – two
breakfast habits the research linked with
lower nutrient intakes.
Lets talk sugar - The NRA study showed
there was no difference in the amount of added
sugars** in children’s diets, no matter whether
they started the day by eating breakfast cereal or
other breakfast foods, like toast and spreads.
There was also no difference in their kilojoule
intakes, but cereal eaters had healthier diets that
were higher in vitamins and minerals.
Milking it – Starting the day with breakfast cereal
also helped to boost the amount of milk children
Dairy milk is the top source of calcium in the
diets of Australian children and also provides
magnesium, potassium and riboflavin.
The NRA study showed children that started
their day with cereal were three times more likely
to have milk on a daily basis than children that
skipped breakfast or ate other foods for breakfast.
Skippers missing out – Almost one in ten
Australian children headed off to school or play
without breakfast, according to the NRA study.
Those who skipped breakfast also missed out on
getting important nutrients needed for growth and
development with the researchers reporting they
had the lowest daily intakes of most nutrients and
dietary fibre. Most (61percent) children skipping
breakfast were in their mid to late teens (aged 14 to 18
Nutrition Research Australia’s analysis was funded by
a research grant from the Australian Breakfast Cereal
Manufacturers Forum (ABCMF).
* Total sugars includes naturally occurring sugars (i.e.
from fruit and milk) and added sugars.
**Added sugars include sugars and syrups that are
added during food preparation, either by the food
consumer or home cook or food manufacturer.
Top five tips for making school day brekkies count
At this time of year there is always
a lot of fuss about packing the
Insta-perfect lunch box, but when
it comes to improving your child’s
grades, research shows breakfast
is what counts.
A wealth of scientific research
links breakfast with improved
brain function and academic
performance, including a review
of 41 studies that showed eating
breakfast was the number one
dietary factor linked to better
So to help start the school
year off on the right track,
Dietitians Association of Australia
Practising Dietitian and mum of
three, Dr Kellie Bilinski has shared
her five top tips to make school
day brekkies quick, easy and
packed with goodness:
A+ brekkie – A good-quality
breakfast has been shown to help
improve grades for both literacy
It also helps kids to beat the
‘fuzzies’, or poor concentration,
that can set in with the mid-
morning hunger pangs.
A gold star brekkie can be quick
and budget friendly, just aim for
a breakfast that includes cereal,
dairy and fruit.
The latest Australian Bureau
of Statistics data has revealed
children that started their day with
breakfast cereal had the healthiest
Ready, set, go! – For frantic
mornings, I like to have a few on-
the-go breakfast options at the
One of my favourites is a
breakfast bento box with dry
breakfast cereal, some Greek
yoghurt and easy to nibble fruit
like grapes, berries and mandarin
It’s ideal for kids to munch on in
the car or while watching siblings
at before school sports practice.
Not hungry, no drama - If your
kids aren’t hungry first thing in the
morning, it can make brekkie a
Cutting out snacks before
bedtime can help boost their
appetite in the morning. Another
solution that I find helps break the
morning stalemate, is to shake
it up with an all-in-one smoothie.
Just blend breakfast cereal, milk
and their favourite fruits for a filling
shake full of goodness. It’s a great
option kids can make themselves
and a brekkie that slow sippers
can take with them.
Slurp it up – Let’s forget
manners for a moment and
encourage kids to drink up their
Calcium is essential for growing
bodies, strong bones and teeth
but about half of older primary
school children (aged 9-11) are
not getting enough.
One of the main sources of
calcium in Australian children’s
diets is the milk they have with
cereal, so make sure they empty
their cereal bowl.
You could even add a straw for
guaranteed slurping fun.
Avoid the parent trap – All
too often the morning rush can
become all about getting the kids
fed and ready.
Try not to fall into the trap of just
grabbing a coffee and take five
minutes to eat breakfast yourself.
It not only sets a great example,
but it will also help give you the
energy and patience you need to
manage the morning rush.
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