Why breakfast is the most important meal

Breakfast is served.
Breakfast is served.

Breakfast provides the body and brain with 'fuel' after an overnight fast - that's where its name originates - breaking the fast.

While adults need to eat breakfast each day to perform their best, children need it even more. Children have growing bodies and developing brains, which requires regular refueling often from food where they get vitamins and other nutrients.

Research shows that if these nutrients are missed at breakfast, they are less likely to be compensated for later in the day.

Interestingly, studies show that children who skip breakfast are tardy and absent from school more often than children who eat breakfast on a regular basis.

Forty five per cent of moms think that a nutritious breakfast means their children will be able to concentrate better at school while 41 per cent of mothers think that a nutritious breakfast means their children will feel energised.

Fruit, uji and eggs are the most commonly mentioned as good for a growing child.

Speaking during the recent launch of the Blue Band’s nutritious breakfast initiative, Prof Judith Kimiye from Kenyatta University said: “You can clearly see children's concentration and energy levels increase when they start their day with a nutritious breakfast. It’s absolutely vital to send this nourishment to the brain after a night of fasting. We see that poor nutrition in children has a knock-on effect adults who were malnourished as children earn less on average throughout their lifetime than those who benefitted from a proper breakfast.”

Although children do have something for breakfast, it is not enough as many only drink tea for breakfast. A third of mothers openly acknowledge that they don’t think that their children get a nutritious breakfast, with cost being the key barrier, Prof Kimiye said.

Breakfast helps improve mental performance and concentration during morning activities. Children who skip breakfast will be more sluggish, less attentive, and have less energy to carry out their morning tasks.

“Teachers observe that children who come to school hungry experience more learning difficulties compared to well-nourished children. Besides optimal development and growth, positive effects on alertness, attention, performance on standardized achievement tests, and other skills important for academic success are enhanced for those who eat breakfast on a daily basis,” said the don.

This also means that schooling is affected, with almost half of mothers seeing a link between school performance and a nutritious breakfast.

Almost as important as education, moms see a link between food and energy. The challenge for these mothers is to provide an energy rich breakfast.

On his part, Nicolas Liabeuf, Global CEO Spreads for Unilever, explained the company’s commitment to boosting nutrition by helping more than one billion people worldwide take action to improve their health and well-being by the year 2020.

“Blue Band, which has been loved for its great taste since the 1950s, is now the only spread in East Africa with Omega 3 and 6 which are important for the growth and development of children. With these essential nutrients, also known as good fats, Blue Band will ensure a healthy, nutritious and tasty breakfast when used with bread or uji.”

He added: “We are keeping our commitment to the Kenyan people by continuing to deliver better products, for healthier diets and helping grow more great kids.”