Obesity remains high among children and adolescents in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 13.7 million young Americans are affected by the obesity epidemic across the country.
Analyzing behaviors of teenagers, researchers said that those who skip breakfast showed signs of obesity or being overweight. A new study found the morning habit directly linked to unbalanced diet and unhealthy activities.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, states that millions of children and adolescents worldwide have been skipping breakfast. The same age group also tend to replace healthy food in the morning with products with low nutritional value, such as deep-fried snacks, pastries and sugary drinks.
"We found that skipping breakfast is associated with adiposity markers in adolescents regardless of where they live and how much sleep they get, or whether they're male or female," Elsie Costa de Oliveira Forkert, an epidemiologist from the University of São Paulo's Medical School in Brazil, said in a statement.
The researchers analyzed data from two separate surveys in Europe and Brazil that jointly involved more than 4,500 adolescents, aged between 12 to 18. The team looked at energy balance-related behaviors, weight, height and body mass index of the respondents.
Respondents were also asked about their physical activity levels at school, at home, during leisure or while commuting.
Forkert said the teenagers who skipped breakfast most of the time during the study showed larger body mass index compared to those who commonly eat a healthy meal in the morning.
"By skipping breakfast, millions of children and adolescents around the world are probably replacing a more healthy homemade meal including dairy products, whole-grain cereal and fruit with fast food at a venue on the way to school, or at the school itself," the researcher said.
Forkert added unbalanced diet was common among the teenagers who had sedentary habits, spent more time watching television, using a computer or playing video games. Such sedentary behaviors have been associated with high calorie consumption and obesity.
However, sleep helped some of the teenagers reduce the risk of obesity. The boys from Brazil who slept less than eight hours per day had lower BMI compared to those who spent more time in bed and skipped breakfast.