Eating a complete breakfast helps teens to stay alert in class.

The Importance of Eating Breakfast for Teenagers

by Jeremi Davidson

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it provides the nutrients needed to get through the morning efficiently. HealthyChildren.org reports that 20 percent to 30 percent of teens do not eat breakfast before heading to school. Many of those teens miss breakfast because they sleep in after working, playing or doing homework late at night. Although skipping breakfast is more common among females, teens from lower socioeconomic families and older adolescents, it remains an issue for all youths, according to the medical journal "Pediatrics."

1. Academic Performance

A study published in the journal "Pediatrics" in 2008 reports that while eating breakfast did not improve the attention span of high school students, male students showed improved memory skills and felt more positive about themselves. In addition, all students felt more alert after eating breakfast, which could contribute to positive learning outcomes. These positive effects occur because those who miss this meal lack the glucose that is needed for neurotransmitters to function properly in the body.

2. Meet Nutritional Needs

The vitamins that are found in many breakfast cereals help teens to stay nourished throughout the day. KeepKidsHealthy.com reports that teens who skip breakfast are less likely to consume enough phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B-12, folate and calcium. These vitamins and minerals are found in many breakfast foods and help the child's body function properly.

3. Lower Body Mass Index

Some teens skip breakfast as a method of weight control, but it often has the exact opposite effect. Those who eat breakfast often consume more calories and cholesterol than their counterparts. As long as the teen is active throughout the day, however, the body burn these calories. Some students who skip breakfast also skip lunch, only to eat nonstop once they return home. Because many snack foods are full of saturated and transfats, the teen ends up gaining weight despite skipping meals. As of the date of publication, about 17 percent of teens are overweight, according to HealthyChildren.org. Eating a breakfast that is high in fiber can combat weight gain by making the child feel fuller so he does not need to snack throughout the day.

4. Breakfast Foods

When making a breakfast for your teen, ensure that she consumes the right food. Start off with some protein such as an egg, a few slices of cheese or a cup of yogurt. Adding ham or cheese to some scrambled eggs can provide the teen with the protein that she needs until lunch, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Carbohydrates are important for energy levels, so whole grain oatmeal, toast or muffins can go a long way toward keeping your teen focused in class. Fruits such as pineapple, grapefruit and bananas provide fiber for your child before school.

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