A new study from East Finland University claims that children who have a routine meal and snack pattern that includes breakfast are less likely to be overweight.[i] Over 4,000 children were studied from the time their mothers were pregnant through to the age of 16 by experts from the university. The 16 year olds who said they regularly ate three meals and two snacks per day had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those with erratic eating patterns and those who skipped breakfast.
Judy More, Paediatric Dietitian and member of the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) said,
‘‘With so many of our children now overweight and obese even before they begin school, it is really important that parents organise a daily routine for their children of three meals and two planned snacks based on nutritious foods, rather than allowing them to graze on foods or eat unplanned snacks which are often high calorie low nutrient foods. Establishing good eating habits in early life and eating family meals with their children have both been shown to benefit the health of children. Planned meals and snacks usually provide a better range of nutrients, and a good daily meal and snack routine also limits the number of times that teeth are exposed to sugar and acid.”
For practical advice on developing a positive approach to food and feeding in the early years visit the ITF’s resources for parents
[i] Jääskeläinen A, Schwab U, Kolehmainen M, Kaakinen M, Savolainen M, Froguel P, Cauchi S, Järvelin M-R and Laitinen J. Meal frequencies modify the effect of common genetic variants on body mass index in adolescents of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986. PLOS ONE 8: e73802, 2013.