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Skipping breakfast is associated with lower diet quality in young US children



Breakfast consumption has been shown to impact children’s growth and development, but the influence of breakfast skipping on total daily intakes is not known. The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in nutritional intakes and food consumption between children who consume breakfast versus those who do not.


Dietary recall data were assessed for 2-year-old to 5-year-old children (n = 3443) and 6-year-old to 12-year-old children (n = 5147) from NHANES 2005–2012. Dietary intakes and diet quality scores were compared across breakfast consumption and skipping with means and 95% confidence interval.


Children who skipped breakfast on the day of intake had significantly lower energy intakes for the total day (5911 vs 6723 kJ) but had greater energy intakes from non-breakfast meals and snacks. Children who skipped breakfast consumed nearly 40% of the day’s intake (2332 kJ of 5911 kJ) from snacks, with 586 kJ from snacks as added sugars. Breakfast skipping was also related to significantly lower intakes of fiber, folate, iron, and calcium intakes. Overall diet quality scores, as well as fruit, whole fruit, whole grains, dairy and empty calorie subscale scores were significantly better in children who ate breakfast.


Children who skipped breakfast presented poorer overall diet quality and lower total intakes commonly obtained at breakfast. To address missed opportunities, nutrition professionals should encourage children’s consumption of a nutritious breakfast to support overall diet quality.

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The Project was funded by an unrestricted grant from Abbott Nutrition.

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Correspondence to Christopher A. Taylor.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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In memory of Samantha A. Ramsay

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Ramsay, S.A., Bloch, T.D., Marriage, B. et al. Skipping breakfast is associated with lower diet quality in young US children. Eur J Clin Nutr 72, 548–556 (2018).

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