Teens Who Skip Breakfast More Likely To Have Sex Earlier

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Teens

You know that business about breakfast being the most important meal of the day? You probably heard it as a child and are now repeating it to your own child. Good for you! Breakfast is important . Studies show that kids who skip the morning meal are more likely to be tardy and miss more days of school than their breakfast-eating peers. And teens who eat breakfast maintain a healthier body mass index and tend to be more active than kids who don't.

But if all that that doesn't persuade you to make sure your kids eat before heading out the door each morning, maybe this will: A new study finds that teens who don't eat breakfast tend to have sex at an earlier age than kids who do.

Breakfast Manifesto

    By Gabrielle Linzer
    It's that one extra responsibility you have in the morning after walking the dog, showering and dressing. It's a necessary fuel to make it through the day, but for some, it's a nuisance that they simply can't be bothered with. Find out all there is to know about the most important meal of the day.

    It kicks your brain into gear

    Whether you're bleary-eyed or full of energy in the morning, eating a nutritious breakfast jump starts "critical thinking mode." In a study conducted on elementary school children at Tufts University, it was found that "when children consume breakfast, performance is enhanced on measures of vigilance attention, arithmetic, problem solving tasks, and logical reasoning." It's not just school; these skills translate to the work environment, too. A healthy breakfast can also help tone your memory muscles. In the same study, researchers found enhanced spatial and short-term memory improvement.

    It's an easy way to get your daily recommended whole grains

    We're supposed to eat five to 10 servings of whole grains per day, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If you're not a health food fanatic, this sounds like a daunting task. Luckily, "cereal is a major source of whole grain in American diets," according to research conducted by the Bell Institute. If you're not a fan of whole grain pasta and you'd prefer not to scarf down half a loaf of whole wheat bread, chow down a bowl of cereal for breakfast, snack, whenever.

    It helps you lose weight

    Skipping breakfast can be counterproductive when dropping pounds. You're not saving calories, you're merely delaying them. Breakfast eaters are leaner than those who skip the morning meal, according to Harvard Health Publications, with one study reporting that missing breakfast was associated with a fourfold increase in the risk of obesity. Consuming a healthy, filling breakfast can also help you reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even intestinal polyps and colon cancer -- not to mention that a variety of fruits and nonfat milk will stave off hunger until your next meal and provide many essential vitamins and nutrients.

    It fights depression

    Although we like to think we have full control over our behavior, our moods are often dictated by how we feel physically. Studies comparing school children who did and did not have breakfast found that the breakfast eaters were less depressed, anxious and hyperactive. Don't skip your therapy session in favor of a hearty breakfast, but it could serve as one tasty step towards well-being.

    It's packed with essential nutrients

    You may not feel like you're missing much when you skip your morning meal, but your body certainly will. Breakfast "may provide one-quarter of our daily nutrient needs including Vitamin C, calcium, iron and folate," according to the University of Wisconsin Extension. Nutrient-packed drinks like fruit juice and milk are primarily downed at breakfast time, along with whole grain toast and fruit, which may help explain why "breakfast eaters are more likely than non-breakfast eaters to meet the USDA Food Guide Pyramid recommendations for dairy food, fruits and grains." Besides missing out on the benefits of all these essential food groups early in the day, people who skip breakfast are often unable to compensate for the nutrients they missed at breakfast with other meals.

    It can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels

    The heart conscious will be thrilled to learn that breakfast can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke by decreasing the level of LDL in the body, which can clog arteries and lead to a number of serious health concerns. A 2005 study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that of the women who were studied, those who ate breakfast had significantly lower levels of LDL in their bodies. They also displayed less sensitivity to insulin, another large contributor to heart disease. Keep in mind, though, eating a breakfast of croissants and donuts won't produce positive health results.

    It keeps your sweet-tooth in check

    Engaging in a candy binge or eating a seven course dinner completely defeats the intentions you had when you skipped breakfast to avoid calories. Unfortunately, researchers at the University of Minnesota found that kids who skip breakfast tend to have higher BMIs than those who ate a daily breakfast. The researchers believe this may be because without breakfast, children grow extremely hungry by lunch time and are more willing to overeat, or eat unhealthy, easily attainable foods. Children aren't the only ones affected by this phenomenon. Cut your daily trips to the vending machine and fatty-but-filling lunches by filling up on a healthful breakfast before you get to work.

    You'll exercise more

    The energy you get from breakfast can propel you into an active day. According to the University of Southern California, the same researchers that concluded that breakfast-eating adolescents have a lower BMI than their counterparts, also found that "breakfast eaters consumed greater amounts of carbohydrates and fiber, got fewer calories from fat and exercised more." This coincides with the commonly held belief that eating a healthy breakfast can inspire nutritious eating habits for the rest of the day's meals and encourage a healthy, active lifestyle.

    It can prevent morning platelet activation often associated with heart attacks and strokes

    Morning is a crucial time for heart health. "Most heart attacks occur between 7 a.m. and noon, possibly because the cells that help blood clot, platelets, are stickiest then," according to Houston Health Pulse. Fasting overnight and then skipping breakfast increases the platelet activity that can lead to a heart attack. Although it may be time consuming or unpleasant for you to eat early in the morning, the chore of eating breakfast daily is miniscule compared to the suffering that accompanies a heart attack.

The study, conducted by the Japan Family Planning Association, examined the lifestyle habits of about 1,500 males and females aged 16 to 49. They found that those who regularly ate breakfast as teens were an average of 19.4 years old before they had sex for the first time. Those who didn't eat breakfast had sex almost two years earlier - at an average age of 17.5 years old.

"The fact that people can't eat breakfast may show something about their family environment," says Kunio Kitamura, executive director of the Association. "Before blaming individuals for having sex at an early age, it may be necessary to look into the sort of homes they are from."In other words, it isn't the breakfast itself that makes teens wait to have sex, but the fact that the child who is fed each morning is most likely benefiting from better all-around parenting than the child who isn't.

There is nothing really earth-shattering in that revelation but it does raise a question in my mind. Does just feeding the kid count or do you actually have to sit down and eat breakfast together? Apparently that depends on how much your teen likes you. That same study found that teens who said their mothers were annoying were also more likely to have sex at an earlier age. Those teens reported having sex at an average age of 16 -- a full three years earlier than those with non-annoying moms!

So, here's the bottom line: If you want to encourage chastity in your teens, insist that they eat a good breakfast each and every morning. And try not to be annoying about it.

Does your family sit down together for breakfast? Or is it more of a grab-and-go situation?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.