1. Archive

Good, bad breakfast news

(ran ST edition)

Breakfast is getting more nutritious, but fewer people are taking advantage of it, according to a breakfast trends analysis published recently in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Here's the good news. Consumption of low-fat milk, whole grain bread, high fiber cereal, fruit and juice is up in the 1990s compared to the '60s. Consumption of whole milk, bacon, eggs, white bread, low fiber cereal, butter and margarine is down for the same period.

Now here's the bad news. Those with more than a high school education were more likely to eat breakfast in the 1960s, and they still are in the '90s, so the big jump in college education from 17 percent in the '60s to 45 percent in the '90s should have produced more breakfast eaters. Not so. Breakfast eating has declined from 86 percent to 75 percent of U.S. adults.

Folks slightly more likely to eat breakfast include those with higher income, higher education and those living in the South as well as those who are older. In fact, at each decade, the likelihood of eating breakfast increases. People who are obese, those living in urban and suburban areas, those in the Northeast and blacks are a little less likely to eat breakfast.

Improved breakfast quality could bode well for the future health of those who take the trouble to eat it. Foods on the increase are those most likely to reduce risks for heart disease and cancer, but more and more people are missing out on all those fruits, juices and whole grains.

The researchers suggest that nonbreakfasting adults may reflect habits developed in childhood. If so, does this mean that no-breakfast adults are passing that habit along to their own kids? For them, skipping breakfast can mean poor school performance, inability to concentrate and inappropriate behavior as well as greater health risks in later life.

The American Dietetic Association's (ADA) recent Child Health and Nutrition Campaign suggests three ways to improve kids' health and well-being that will, coincidentally, improve your own:

Be sure kids eat breakfast daily.

Help kids get physically active.

Be a role model _ eat breakfast and exercise yourself so kids can see that it's fun and a grown-up thing to do.

ADA suggests that you might want to post this list on your refrigerator.

Every day, offer a variety of healthful foods from which you and your child can choose, including:

Ready-to-eat cereals. They are quick, easy and a low-fat source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Select five or six good ones to keep around and let kids mix and match their favorites.

Milk, yogurt or other dairy products.

One or more grain products. Include whole-grain bread, bagels, rice cakes, tortillas, low-fat muffins and breads made with fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Serve with jam, jelly, peanut or apple butter or low-fat cream cheese.

Daily specials. Based on the time available, have toaster waffles, pancakes or French toast, hot cereal, a breakfast burrito or eggs. Limit eggs to three or four a week.

"Unbreakfast" foods. Rice, tapioca or noodle pudding, peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla, cereal cookies, English muffin pizza, grilled cheese sandwich, baked potato, soup, fruit salad or leftover chicken. It's not what you eat but when you eat it that makes it breakfast.