It appears Australian children and adolescents commonly skip breakfast, raising concern among public health experts.
Analysis of the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity survey has found 13.2 per cent of the boys and 18.6 per cent of girls were breakfast skippers.
The unhealthy habit increased with age, from five per cent of boys and 11 per cent of girls aged two to three years, to 25 per cent of boys and 36 per cent of girls aged 14 to 17 years.
‘‘Most breakfast skippers only skipped breakfast on one out of two days, suggesting that few Australian children and adolescents are going without breakfast every day and occasional skipping is more common,’’ wrote the authors of the study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
Of those who did report eating breakfast, 36 out of the nearly 1600 surveyed only consumed a beverage for breakfast on one day, and five consumed only a beverage on both days.
Previous research has linked skipping breakfast with poor diet quality, higher BMI and poor cardiometabolic health.
One explanation for this is that skipping breakfast results in snacking on high energy foods.
‘‘Our findings are consistent with a New Zealand study of five to 14-year-olds that reported breakfast skippers had higher intakes of unhealthy snack foods,’’ the authors wrote.
Not eating breakfast could also result in a child missing out on important nutrients, say the authors.
‘‘Our results also support findings from an Australian study of two to 18-year-olds that reported those who skipped breakfast on two 24-hour recall days had significantly lower intakes of calcium and higher intakes of total fat than those who ate breakfast on at least one day.’’
While more studies are needed, the researchers say interventions to increase breakfast consumption would be best targeted at adolescents, particularly girls.