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BMC Public Health. 2012 Mar 22;12:228. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-228.

Family structure and breakfast consumption of 11-15 year old boys and girls in Scotland, 1994-2010: a repeated cross-sectional study.

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  • 1Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, School of Medicine, University of St Andrews, North Haugh, St Andrews, KY16 9TF, UK.



The benefits of breakfast during childhood and adolescence have been reported previously though few studies have considered family structure inequalities in breakfast consumption. The proportion of young people living in non-traditional family types has increased in recent years, strengthening the need to describe and monitor the impact of the changing family unit on adolescent breakfast consumption. This study aimed to describe changes in daily breakfast consumption among adolescents in Scotland between 1994 and 2010, while also considering family structure inequalities, and the degree to which these have changed over time.


Data from the 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 Scottish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) surveys were analysed using logistic multilevel regression models for binary outcome variable daily breakfast consumption.


Daily breakfast consumption among adolescents increased between 1994 and 2010, although there were differences by age and sex. In fact those aged over 14.5 years saw decreases in breakfast consumption, and girls saw significantly larger increases than boys. Daily breakfast consumption was more prevalent among adolescents from 'both parent' families, with lowest prevalence among those from single parent families. Trends in daily breakfast consumption between 1994 and 2010 also varied by family structure. While prevalence of daily breakfast consumption increased among those living with 'both parents', the largest proportion of the population, prevalence decreased over time among adolescents of single parent families, and particularly among those living with their father.


Family structure inequalities in daily breakfast consumption increased between 1994 and 2010, while breakfast consumption across the population as a whole increased. As the proportion of young people living in an alternative family structure continues to grow it is important to understand why these inequalities have increased and how these may be overcome. Possible reasons for family structure inequalities and their increase in recent years are discussed.

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